Two Poems

A Photo Of My Father That Doesn’t Actually Exist

 

Washington Square Park, 1950, for example

 

Her clothing says Old Europe
till my father’s angular face emerges from the blur,
a skinny six-year-old in awe of tall buildings
and clearly in love with his beautiful mother.
The exposure catches the changing of the lights,
the vintage traffic circling the tiny island.
His face is a light — this is the game they’re playing.
Perched on the lip of the fountain his mother
reaches out for him, the wash of her glove
like a white pigeon exploding into the frame.
Chaos presses in — whirl of dancers behind her,
drummers jostle for control of a rhythm.
How quick my father must have been!
His mother’s hand faster than the camera’s lens.

 

Take The Body From The Ground

 

Un-name the stone.
Unlower the box.
Unseal the lid.
Lift the body gently out
and undress her.
Unpaint her face.
Unglue her eyes.
Uncut her nails.
Unwash her arms and legs
and drain her of chemicals.
Pump the fluids back into her veins.
Unharvest her organs.
Unweigh her.
Wheel her back into the hearse
and drive her to the ER.
Unseal the wound.
Unstop the heart.
Reflate the lungs.
Don’t say goodbye.
Don’t pray.
Put the key in the ignition
and let the engine rattle back to life.
Watch the road unspool before your eyes
like something coming out of you.
Reverse the spark.
Open the door.
Walk backwards into your house.
and pick up the telephone.
Listen.
Put it back down.
Let it ring.

 

 

JOSHUA MENSCH is a poet and one of the founding editors of B O D Y. His poems have appeared in PlumeBrickThe CollagistSmartish Pace, and elsewhere. He is the author of BECAUSE, a book-length poem forthcoming from W.W. Norton & Co. in Winter, 2018. He lives in Prague, Czech Republic.

 

Issue #65 December 2016
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