By Marvin Bell b. 1937 Marvin Bell
It could be a clip, it could be a comb;
it could be your mother, coming home.   
It could be a rooster; perhaps it’s a comb;   
it could be your father, coming home.   
It could be a paper; it could be a pin.   
It could be your childhood, sinking in.

The toys give off the nervousness of age.   
It’s useless pretending they aren’t finished:   
faces faded, unable to stand,
buttons lost down the drain during baths.   
Those were the days we loved down there,   
the soap disappearing as the water spoke,

saying, it could be a wheel, maybe a pipe;   
it could be your father, taking his nap.
Legs propped straight, the head tilted back;   
the end was near when he could keep track.
It could be the first one; it could be the second;   
the father of a friend just sickened and sickened.

Marvin Bell, “Obsessive” from Nightworks: Poems 1962-2000. Copyright © 2000 by Marvin Bell. Reprinted with the permission of Copper Canyon Press, P. O. Box 271, Port Townsend, WA 98368-0271, www.coppercanyonpress.org

Source: Nightworks: Poems 1962-2000 (Copper Canyon Press, 2000)

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Poet Marvin Bell b. 1937

POET’S REGION U.S., Midwestern

Subjects Living, Health & Illness, Relationships, Family & Ancestors

Poetic Terms Rhymed Stanza

 Marvin  Bell


American poet and critic Marvin Bell "is a poet of the family. He writes of his father, his wives, his sons, and himself in a dynamic interaction of love and loss, accomplishment, and fear of alienation. These are subjects that demand maturity and constant evaluation. A complete reading of Bell's canon shows his ability to understand the durability of the human heart. Equally impressive is his accompanying technical . . .

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SUBJECT Living, Health & Illness, Relationships, Family & Ancestors

POET’S REGION U.S., Midwestern

Poetic Terms Rhymed Stanza

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Originally appeared in Poetry magazine.

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