4.16.2007

A Late Start: National Poetry Month


I've let more than half of National Poetry Month get away from me. Taking Collin's lead, though, I do want to share some of the poems that have been important to me over the years--to my own writing and life.

I love this one for the same reasons I loved the movie Crash. It shows how we are capable of being so evil and so good. I admire the way Laux tells the story, the interesting neutral wonder of the tone, the way she lets the readers make our own judgment.


The Tooth Fairy

They brushed a quarter with glue
and glitter, slipped in on bare
feet, and without waking me
painted rows of delicate gold
footprints on my sheets with a love
so quiet, I still can't hear it.

My mother must have been
a beauty then, sitting
at the kitchen table with him,
a warm breeze lifting her
embroidered curtains, waiting
for me to fall asleep.

It's harder to believe
the years that followed, the palms
curled into fists, a floor
of broken dishes, her chainsmoking
through long silences, him
punching holes in his walls.

I can still remember her print
dresses, his checkered Taxi, the day
I found her in the closet
with a paring knife, the night
he kicked my sister in the ribs.

He lives alone in Oregon now, dying
of a rare bone disease.
His face stippled gray, his ankles
clotted beneath wool socks.

She's a nurse on the graveyard shift,
Comes home mornings and calls me,
Drinks her dark beer and goes to bed.

And I still wonder how they did it, slipped
that quarter under my pillow, made those
perfect footprints...

Whenever I visit her, I ask again.
"I don't know," she says, rocking, closing
her eyes. "We were as surprised as you."

-Dorianne Laux

2 comments:

Collin said...

Dorianne rocks.

ktothefe said...

This poem is beautiful! It puts love in such a tragic perspective. Thanks for posting T!

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