Jack

By Sara Backer Sara Backer
I have become the smaller flag on a ship,
the shorter rafters of a roof, a knave
in a pack of cards. I wear a skimpy coat,
tall leather boot, and leather drinking flask.
I am captured in a child's game
and hit when grown men gamble.
I am what they call a tame ape.

I was a common man
whose job was to lift weight.
Mechanical devices that replaced
my muscles took my job and pay
and more—they took my human name.
And I, who used to pull
my master's boots, hoist meat
and turn the spit, work the roller
and the winch, climb the steeple,
strike the bell and connect lines
in telephone exchange, am a daw,
the tiniest of crows, gathering
loose sticks to nest in castle ruins.

The solace of six centuries—and still—
is once, on a high and windy hill,
beside a well that was clear and full,
I kissed a girl named Gylle.

Source: Poetry (July 2001).

MORE FROM THIS ISSUE

This poem originally appeared in the July 2001 issue of Poetry magazine

View this poem in its original format

July 2001
 Sara  Backer

Biography

Sara Backer studied music at Oregon State and took a Masters in creative writing from the University of California at Davis. American Fuji, her first novel, appeared this year from G. P. Putnam's Sons.

Continue reading this biography

Report a problem with this poem


Your results will be limited to content that appeared in Poetry magazine.

Search Every Issue of Poetry

Originally appeared in Poetry magazine.

This poem has learning resources.

This poem is good for children.

This poem has related video.

This poem has related audio.