Those most beautiful
I couldn’t read for a crowd.
When Sexton, blind with love,
Saw her daughter’s life stretch out,
When Thomas sang in his chains like the sea,
And refused to mourn–
Once I was in that cold embrace
They carried me along and up and down the peaks of waves.
I was in thrall.
They made me pull in my breath.
My throat ached its resistance.
And sometimes in my search for words
I felt my face draw shut
When an image opened,
Tender as a wound in my mouth.
Sometimes I wrote about my father,
Discovering, even after fifty years
The fresh mark of his inscrutable rage,
And reading it as loss,
Even though I knew he was across town
Nursing the clock on his wall.
“Don’t be an absentee,” he’d said the last time,
As if I must remember to vote
Before the polls closed.
Once I took him out
And brought a book of poems.
About the slowness of the coffee,
Barked at the waiter for not knowing
That Belgian waffles have strawberries,
Not peaches, goddamnit.
I read him a poem by Shelley,
One that wouldn’t bring me to shame,
And another by Hopkins that almost did.
“Now you,” I told him, sliding the book across.
He turned the pages and began,
Then, in midsentence, closed the book.
“Can’t,” he said, and looked away,
Bearing my unshed tears.
©2014 Katherine Grace Bond