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When Father Decided He Did Not Love Her Anymore

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Tonight I will remember the model
With the wide, sad mouth
Who used to pose for father
Because I love the dangers of memory,
The boarded window and door,
Rooms where one bare bulb
Makes shadows swell up the wall.
And yet I recall only vaguely
The way her hem rustled on the floor
Like sand against tin
Laisse-moi tranquille, epicier,
It said because I want it to
Say something memorable.
I want her back
That brilliant, farfetched woman
Who drank coffee in our garden
And the days father fed me
Absinthe through a sugar cube
So I would be asleep by noon
And wake to find Ramona posing
Naked with a tambourine.
Tonight the whole world is a garden
In which the immortal whispers
Something about art
And its opportunities:
Memory like a bolt of silk
In a tailor’s arms
Can be made into anything
Especially misfortune,
Especially the year Ramona spent
In a wrath almost Biblical
And so far from the world
Not even the moon could find
Her study in Paris
Where the doors opened to the river.

Lynn Emanuel, “When Father Decided He Did Not Love Her Anymore” from Hotel Fiesta. Copyright © 1984, 1992, 1995 by Lynn Emanuel. Reprinted with the permission of the author and the University of Illinois Press.
Source: Hotel Fiesta (1984)

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This poem originally appeared in the May 1983 issue of Poetry magazine

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When Father Decided He Did Not Love Her Anymore

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