V  P  R

Contemporary Poetry and Poetics




He knew the pulse of things: the circumference
of bagels, Masonic symbols, out-of-the-way

parlors for pistachio ice cream. Knew to send

Lillian “My Darling” cards, how to linger
in the happiness of a contraband Havana cigar.

He’d offer up the wooden box tattooed

with dancing girls and oceans to his youngest daughter.
An open ticket, little coffin, promise of something

older than Mathematics or Persia or Kipling.

He knew fractured things: relatives
disappearing in pogroms, squirrels

in the attic, a wife of absent feeling. Each

sadness needs a street name: Alma,
Lola, Santa Maria. No, never could he

cheat, he told her; but instead collected pocket

protectors, Lincoln pennies, basement closets
of burnt-out light bulb fodder—certain

that one day there’d be a way to reclaim

the broken, the shunned—snapped
filament of him, of me.

© by Susan Rich


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