Thursday, November 06, 2008

way to turn a day upside down, garrison keillor

leaving my weekly doctor's appointment today, i heard The Writer's Almanac on NPR. The poem today was called "Lucky." i listened. oh man.

Lucky

by Tony Hoagland

If you are lucky in this life,
you will get to help your enemy
the way I got to help my mother
when she was weakened past the point of saying no.

Into the big enamel tub
half-filled with water
which I had made just right,
I lowered the childish skeleton
she had become.

Her eyelids fluttered as I soaped and rinsed
her belly and her chest,
the sorry ruin of her flanks
and the frayed gray cloud
between her legs.

Some nights, sitting by her bed
book open in my lap
while I listened to the air
move thickly in and out of her dark lungs,
my mind filled up with praise
as lush as music,

amazed at the symmetry and luck
that would offer me the chance to pay
my heavy debt of punishment and love
with love and punishment.

And once I held her dripping wet
in the uncomfortable air
between the wheelchair and the tub,
and she begged me like a child

to stop,
an act of cruelty which we both understood
was the ancient irresistible rejoicing
of power over weakness.

If you are lucky in this life,
you will get to raise the spoon
of pristine, frosty ice cream
to the trusting creature mouth
of your old enemy

because the tastebuds at least are not broken
because there is a bond between you
and sweet is sweet in any language.

"Lucky" by Tony Hoagland from Donkey Gospel. © Graywolf Press, 1998. Reprinted with permission. (buy now)


3 Comments:

Blogger Widdi said...

Wow. Wow.

10:46 PM  
Blogger Fierce-Rabbit said...

Yeah...what Widdi said....

8:18 AM  
Blogger Anne-Davnes said...

I love listening to Garrison read poetry.

10:03 PM  

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