Sophia over at Intagliod Up in Blue has a poem up by Kenneth Rexroth, "Runaway." One day in the nineteen eighties, my father took a used copy of Rexroth's Collected Shorter Poems
from his briefcase and left it on the hall table. After he'd gone up to his study, I flipped through it, spied the words breast, thigh, erotic
, and secreted it in my purse. My father never asked about his book. Same goes for his copies of Roethke, Hopkins, and a Penguin Poetry of the Forties
My father and I didn't talk much. I was prickly, fragile, an ethereal machine of anger, and he wore his melancholy as a privacy. If you asked him, he would say he was tired from work, is all, and look away. Knowing him, I wouldn't be surprised if he failed to register the disappearance of his purchases.
But still, the exchange transpired: his briefcase, our hall table, my purse, my bedtable. And the books are still on my shelf. Twenty years later, I still read them. They succor me. They succor the ghost, the mouse, the thief I once was.
Is a gift that fails to recognize itself as such still a gift?
Died June, 1916
Under your illkempt yellow roses,
Delia, today you are younger
Than your son. Two and a half decades--
The family monument sagged askew,
And he overtook your half-a-life.
On the other side of the country,
Near the willows by the slow river,
Deep in the earth, the white ribs retain
The curve of your fervent, careful breast;
The fine skull, the ardor of your brain.
And in the fingers the memory
Of Chopin etudes, and in the feet
Slow waltzes and champagne twosteps sleep.
And the white full moon of midsummer,
That you watched awake all that last night,
Watches history fill the deserts
And oceans with corpses once again;
And looks in the east window at me,
As I move past you to middle age
And knowledge past your agony and waste.
- Kenneth Rexroth
Labels: Delia, family, Kenneth, poetry, Rexroth