1. Home
  2. Poetry Magazine
  3. Poems
  4. The Red Portrait by Karl Kirchwey
The Red Portrait

Related Poem Content Details

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)

More from this issue

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

  • Search every issue of Poetry

Your results will be limited to content that appeared in Poetry magazine. Search the whole site

The Red Portrait

Related Poem Content Details

  • 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 poet’s own tenderheartedness,” observed poet Mary Jo Salter in a review of The Engrafted Word for the New York Times.
    Kirchwey is the author of several collections of poetry, including Mount Lebanon (2011), The Happiness of This World: Poetry and Prose (2007); The Engrafted Word (1998), a New York Times Notable Book; and A Wandering Island (1990), recipient of the Norma Farber First Book Award from the Poetry Society of America, as well as Poems Under Saturn (2011), a translation...

  • Poem Categorization

    If you disagree with this poem's categorization make a suggestion.
  • Search every issue of Poetry

Your results will be limited to content that appeared in Poetry magazine. Search the whole site

Other Information