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Consider Oedipus’s Father

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It could have been a car door
                leaving that bruise,

as any mom knows,
almost anything could take an eye out,

and almost anybody could get their tongue
                frozen to a pole,

which is kind of funny
                to the point of tears
                plus a knee slap or two
that an eye can be made blue, pink
by a baby’s fist, it fits
perfectly in the socket. It’s happened to me.
                Get it?

Any scenario is better,
beats sitting in a car and hearing
                someone you love
                sob,
which I have done
with a black eye.

For me, a woman’s tears
are IKEA instructions
on the European side.

I’m sure for Laius, Oedipus’s father, it was the same.
                Think of him sleeping
after having held a crying Jocasta
because they had fought for hours
because she was stronger.

                Who knew better the anger of young Jocasta?
Knew that when the oracle, or the police,
                come, they are taking someone with them.

I’m sure Laius looked at the crib
                and thought better you
than me, kid.

Now consider your own
father, or the guy your mother
                dated until he took
the three-sided road,

crouched in front of a paper
                plate with a catcher’s
                mitt, teaching
                a curveball grip —

                but did he ever teach
the essential lesson
of how to block a punch
                from a finely manicured hand,
or to walk away when
records are being candled and books disemboweled,

teach the wonderment of
                a jar of peanut butter jammed
in a TV screen
below a snail trail of ice cream
                near broken pictures on the wall?

Not while he’s king, I bet, and not while
                there are mothers and their jobs,
like breastfeeding or serving a warm plate
                on a table

next
to cold beers
                from the hand

of a mother he made from a virgin
                with his own hands, his own hands.

Source: Poetry (June 2015)

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This poem originally appeared in the June 2015 issue of Poetry magazine

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Consider Oedipus’s Father

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