Vox Populi

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Stephen Dobyns: No Map

How close the clouds press this October first
and the rain—a gray scarf across the sky.
In separate hospitals my father and a dear friend
lie waiting for their respective operations,
hours on a table as surgeons crack their chests.
They were so brave when I talked to them last
as they spoke of the good times we would share
in the future. To neither did I say how much
I loved them, nor express the extent of my fear.
Their bodies are delicate glass boxes
at which the world begins to fling its stones.
Is this the day their long cry will be released?
How can I live in this place without them?
But today is also my son’s birthday.
He is eight and beginning his difficult march.
To him the sky is welcoming, the road straight.
Far from my house he will open his presents—
a book, a Swiss army knife, some music. Where
is his manual of instructions? Where is his map
showing the dark places and how to escape them?

 Copyright 1994 Stephen Dobyns. Originally published in Body Traffic and republished in Velocities: New and Selected Poems 1966-1992 published by Penguin. Included in Vox Populi by permission of the author.

2 comments on “Stephen Dobyns: No Map

  1. kennethrosenpoet
    October 6, 2021

    Quite wonderful for this old man to read at this exact moment, as I gaze out the window just a body’s length beyond my left shoulder and see that the day has abruptly to night. What happened to twilight? Does it matter? Good to know Emery’s birthday was October 1. Facebook wouldn’t let me scroll. I was looking for Emery’s mother’s poem posted today. Besides the computer/internet (and how!) interface, even books are a challenge these days. 9 times out of 10 when I look for the book I know I own and had planned to read next, I can’t find it, have to go to war with myself to resist temptation to go to ABE Books, buy a copy that the mailman will deliver, so the speak, into my impatiently trembling hands, this temptation half the reason for local confusion. I’m the other half of course. Where in Galway Kinnell’s poetry is the poem in which his daughter Maude, studying the bulge in the snale that has just swallowed her pet frog, flatly declares to her father, so that he doesn’t interfere with the great cycle of life, “Frog is now elsewhere!” NO MAP, indeed. What fun, Stephen, to see and read!

    Liked by 1 person

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This entry was posted on October 27, 2019 by in Most Popular, Opinion Leaders, Poetry and tagged , , .

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