By Franz Wright b. 1953 Franz Wright
Before you were I loved you
and when you were born
and when you took your first step
Although I did not know
good luck I want to say

lone penguin keep sturdily waddling
in the direction of those frozen mountains sister
of desolate sanctity
I want to scream
Although I did not know you

I loved you later on
as just a weedy thing
a little skeleton I loved
Both long pre-you a child myself
and as a man in retrospect

I loved and I was there
while they were raping you
I loved although
like God
that’s all that I could do—

Source: Poetry (December 2009).


This poem originally appeared in the December 2009 issue of Poetry magazine

December 2009
  • Poem
    by Jill Alexander Essbaum
  • Frostbite
    by Hailey Leithauser
  • Fever
    by Hailey Leithauser
 Franz  Wright


Franz Wright’s collections of poetry include The Beforelife (2001), God’s Silence (2006), and Walking to Martha’s Vineyard, which won the Pulitzer Prize in 2004. He has received a Whiting Fellowship and grants from the National Endowment for the Arts for his poetry. Wright has translated poetry by Rainer Maria Rilke and Rene Char; in 2008 he and his wife, Elizabeth Oehlkers Wright, co-translated a collection by the Belarusian . . .

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Poem Categorization

SUBJECT Relationships, Family & Ancestors

POET’S REGION U.S., New England

Poetic Terms Free Verse

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Originally appeared in Poetry magazine.

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