Father, in Drawer

By Lucie Brock-Broido b. 1956 Lucie Brock-Broido
Mouthful of earth, hair half a century silvering, who buried him.
With what. Make a fist for heart. That is the size of it.
                                                             Also directives from our  DNA.
The nature of  his wound was the clock-cicada winding down.
                                                            He wound down.
July, vapid, humid: sails of sailboats swelled, yellow boxes
Of   cigars from Cuba plumped. Ring fingers fattened for a spell.
                                                            Barges of coal bloomed in heat.
It was when the catfish were the only fish left living
                                                            In the Monongahela River.
Though there were (they swore) no angels left, one was stillbound in
The very drawer of salt and ache and rendering, its wings wrapped-in
                                                            By the slink from the strap
Of his second-wife’s pearl-satin slip, shimmering and still
                  As one herring left face-up in its brine and tin.
The nature of  his wound was muscadine and terminal; he was easy
                 To take down as a porgy off the cold Atlantic coast.
                 In the old city of   Brod, most of the few Jews left
Living may have been still at supper while he died.
That same July, his daughters’ scales came off in every brittle
                                                            Tinsel color, washing
To the next slow-yellowed river and the next, toward west,
                This is the extent of that. I still have plenty heart.

NOTES: Read the Q&A with Lucie Brock-Broido about this poem

Source: Poetry (December 2012).


This poem originally appeared in the December 2012 issue of Poetry magazine

December 2012
 Lucie  Brock-Broido


Lucie Brock-Broido was born in Pittsburgh, was educated at Johns Hopkins and Columbia University, and has taught at Bennington, Princeton, Harvard (where she was a Briggs-Copeland poet), and Columbia. She is the recipient of fellowships from the NEA and the Guggenheim Foundation, as well as awards from the American Poetry Review and the Academy of American Arts and Letters.

In an interview with Carol Maso for BOMB magazine in . . .

Continue reading this biography

Poem Categorization

SUBJECT Living, Health & Illness, Parenthood, Sorrow & Grieving, The Body, Relationships, Family & Ancestors

POET’S REGION U.S., Mid-Atlantic

Poetic Terms Free Verse

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