V  P  R

Contemporary Poetry and Poetics





There have been thirty-six turkeys 
in my life, each near Christmas.
Two I have missed, in í86 and Ď88
and also missed the death of my fatherís mother.
That year in Vienna, I phoned
from a bar serving schnitzel.  Then outside
the pale evening, as if a far off fire
heaved itself into the violet dusk.

We eat well at these dinners: stuffings, 
mulled berries, roasted turkey, many wines.
Our mother is getting so she shakes a bit
lifting the black, fat-spitting roaster.
Our father carves still with respectful 
movements to the bird, feeling its curves
into neat slices of meat. This year he might 
talk about the old Murray cabin up the road.
But thatís as passing as the morning quail.
Instead heís telling me of a cousin he hasnít seen
since his motherís funeral.  And this word
hangs, the f sticking on his lip
like the clot of fat and blood he wipes from the knife.

Later Iíll leave him alone, jacket and brandy,
his half a snifter on the back deck.
Heíll look a long way off into the sky and find
the railroad camps near Shasta,
our sisterís ballet debut,
his first night with our mother cruising San Jose.
They tail like glowing meteors over the ridge.
In the morning weíll walk shoulder to shoulder
quietly through new snow
as though the stars had fallen to ashes over night.

© by Jeff Knorr


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