from The Child

And so the child was hers through birth and after,
and I was household helper, hired hand
to fetch and tote and clean up after them.
And I was happy, happy in the role,
and marveled at the bond, the natural bond
between a woman’s and an infant’s needs.
To my consciousness, they became an it,
a single thing outside of us yet still
within such intimate proximity
we danced in fixed and elegant orbit of
the same cosmic consequences, the same
vague, magnificent, fate filled potency.
May love become a grave contingency.
Praise miles of dirt packed thick with bulbs and seeds.
May myths of love not blur the thing itself.
Praise the harvest! Praise abundance! Praise life!
It was in language he made his bond with her.
In myths and legends, explanations of
the pictures in the books he read aloud
each night, his voice became the voice of time,
and why, and why and why and why and why.
When she was barely old enough to talk,
when she could barely talk they talked for hours.
His interest never flagged; he sat and calmly
listened, then calmly answered every question,
or simply nodded affirmation as
she babbled on from point to childish point.
He repossessed his world, through words, through her.
And as she grew into the language, past
babble into a reasoned, smart regard
of fibula and what she daily witnessed,
so his world deepened such that what had been
vexations, horrors, threats, affronts and schemes
became in sum the mystery of live,
that which he would prepare her for before
he passed from mystery to mystery.
Praise heart’s surrender to the small and mild.
His silence is haunted by her voice.
He listens to each word she doesn’t say.
My heart may not surrender to her loss
as long as I must mourn his mourning her.
I walk out to the garden, touch each rose,
pick away a few dead leaves, caress a thorn.
Magnolias nod their gaudy blooms like old
bewitching mothers soon to curl, and die.
They are so much clumsier than the roses.
Yet I love them more than any flower.
I love the rich creaminess of their petals.
I love how comical they are in death,
their rotting skins hugging to the compost
like happy drunkards singing to themselves.
My baby’s gone, and legions of roses spill
their sexual softness after her upon
the huge and perfect lap that death becomes.

Richard Katrovas
from his book Dithyrambs: Choral Lyrics
Carnegie Mellon University Press, 1998

used with permission of the poet

example of dialogue

This poem was catalogued in Poems and written by Richard Katrovas. Bookmark the permalink.

About Richard Katrovas

Mr. Katrovas taught for twenty years at the University of New Orleans and is now a professor of English at Western Michigan University. The recipient of numerous grants and awards, Katrovas is the founding academic director of the Prague Summer Program, and is the author of six books of poetry,a book of short stories, and a novel.

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