The Red Portrait

By Karl Kirchwey b. 1956 Karl Kirchwey Read the Q & A
Last night she came to me, my mother, dead:
but as she was in the photo, that last Christmas,
wearing a red dress, and her lipstick was red
(I wonder if that means she lives in hell),
and I saw again that she was beautiful,
the same high forehead I have, the same wide brow,
and just my age, forty-nine; and now I was
talking fast, because I knew I had no time,
and I told her I loved her, I told her how her life
had informed mine, and I begged her to come
to me again, to meet my children, my wife.
I said to her—My work, see what I have made,
I have tried to do what you did not live to do.
But she smiled at me and began to fade.

Source: Poetry (March 2008).


This poem originally appeared in the March 2008 issue of Poetry magazine

March 2008
 Karl  Kirchwey


Poet and translator Karl Kirchwey received a BA from Yale College and an MA from Columbia University. Rich with mythical and historical allusion, Kirchwey’s formally assured verse explores themes of loss and origin. “Art is the medium by which Kirchwey’s art most often reifies the past—an undertaking of moral gravity, since so much of what he finds is perennial cruelty and violence. Yet what time and again emerges . . . is the . . .

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Poems by Karl Kirchwey

Poem Categorization

SUBJECT Living, Relationships, Family & Ancestors, Sorrow & Grieving

POET’S REGION U.S., Mid-Atlantic

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Originally appeared in Poetry magazine.

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