Vox Populi

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Jennifer Franklin: As Antigone

I still want to believe
       I can find some way
to fix you. That if I go

back to the beginning—
       retrace the disaster
with the savant detective’s

obsession, I could uncover
       a cure—the smartest
expert, some successful drug.

Better yet, I want
       the pediatrician
to give you a different diagnosis.

I want to go back
       to the walk home
past restaurants and playgrounds,

autumnal light catching
       all the auburn
in your hair. I want to go back

to the moment
       your father left us
outside the cafe, consider

handing you to him—
       all forty-seven pounds
of you in your gingham pants

and hot pink cardigan—
       Dalmatians decorating
the little pockets—and walk away

without looking back.
       But I would never have left
and I won’t now. One way

or another, you will
       be the end of me—
inadvertent brute force,

vector of virus, constant
       caretaking, your heavy
body forcing my remission’s

abrupt end. I know
       what’s waiting—
as certain as cloth hung to hold

my scarred neck.
       I will not walk away.
The moment the nurse

pressed your splotched
       body into my arms,
your needs fixed my fate.

Constantly confused,
       your jagged voice
requests Christmas songs

all spring. You shove
       words of grace
into my dry throat

and I sing. I don’t need
       a bottle of pills,
white as sleep, to silence me.

Every ersatz saint knows
       endless sacrifice
is suicide. For twenty years,

I have been disappearing.
       Touch me;
I am not even here.

Copyright 2023 from If Some God Shakes Your House (Four Way, 2023).

Jennifer Franklin’s collections include No Small Gift (Four Way Books, 2018). She lives with her husband and daughter in New York City. 

8 comments on “Jennifer Franklin: As Antigone

  1. Rose Mary Boehm
    April 20, 2023

    Mindblowing poem.


  2. bercatliz
    April 19, 2023

    Stunning fab poem


  3. laureanne2013
    April 19, 2023

    “One way

    or another, you will
    be the end of me—
    inadvertent brute force,

    vector of virus” — ohhh.


    • Vox Populi
      April 19, 2023

      Thanks, Laure-Anne. Raw passion expressed in beautiful language…



  4. jfrobb
    April 19, 2023

    To the author – This worked so well, I was jarred by your picture (still in the mood of the poem).


  5. Sean Sexton
    April 19, 2023

    Jennifer What a superb poem this morning!
    We are all disappearing—it comes to one slowly. I’m amazed so much remains of the world. I suppose that’s how it works.
    Lovely and sad, like all good writing.


    • Vox Populi
      April 19, 2023

      Thanks, Sean. Yes, this is an elegant lament for an ill child. Very moving.


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