Family Stories

By Dorianne Laux b. 1952 Dorianne Laux
I had a boyfriend who told me stories about his family,
how an argument once ended when his father
seized a lit birthday cake in both hands
and hurled it out a second-story window. That,
I thought, was what a normal family was like: anger
sent out across the sill, landing like a gift
to decorate the sidewalk below. In mine
it was fists and direct hits to the solar plexus,
and nobody ever forgave anyone. But I believed
the people in his stories really loved one another,
even when they yelled and shoved their feet
through cabinet doors, or held a chair like a bottle
of cheap champagne, christening the wall,
rungs exploding from their holes.
I said it sounded harmless, the pomp and fury
of the passionate. He said it was a curse
being born Italian and Catholic and when he
looked from that window what he saw was the moment
rudely crushed. But all I could see was a gorgeous
three-layer cake gliding like a battered ship
down the sidewalk, the smoking candles broken, sunk
deep in the icing, a few still burning.


Poem copyright ©2000 by Dorianne Laux, whose most recent book of poems is The Book of Men, W.W. Norton & Co., 2011. Poem reprinted from Smoke, BOA Editions, Ltd., 2000, by permission of Dorianne Laux and the publisher.

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Poet Dorianne Laux b. 1952

POET’S REGION U.S., Southern

 Dorianne  Laux

Biography

Dorianne Laux is the author of several collections of poetry, including Awake (1990); What We Carry (1994), a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award; Smoke (2000); Facts about the Moon (2005), chosen by the poet Ai as winner of the Oregon Book Award and also a finalist for the Lenore Marshall Poetry Prize; and The Book of Men (2011). She has received fellowships from the Guggenheim Foundation and the National . . .

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Poems by Dorianne Laux

POET’S REGION U.S., Southern

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Originally appeared in Poetry magazine.

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