My grandmother’s centuried face
did not die with her mind,
but it remained breathing,
the face of the noblewomanof Tyre, the eyelids folded
over in discernment.
Then she would not open
her mouth anymore, not evento eat, not even as I carried
her beautiful things to the attic,
her pillbox hat, the silver stole,
the tight-lipped little fox, theclamshell purse she clutched
at round tables, the noisemaker
that never touched her lips.
There was an attic orderin the columns
of boxes and the dusty light
that twisted before the window fan.
I put away the hatpin and it punishedme again, solidly pierced me
at the touch. I put away the shoes
in shut-up boxes, many powdered
tissues in their mouths.
Copyright © 2018 by David Keplinger
All rights reserved.
Reproduced by Poetry Daily with permission
David Keplinger is the author of five volumes of poetry, most recently The Most Natural Thing and The Prayers of Others, as well as three volumes of translation. He has won the T.S. Eliot Prize, the C.P. Cavafy poetry prize, the Erskine J. Poetry Prize, and the Colorado Book Award, as well as two fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts and grants from the DC, Danish, and Pennsylvania Councils on the Arts. He directs the MFA program in creative writing at American University in Washington, DC.
The poems of Another City travel inward and outward at once: into moments of self-reproach and grace, and to those of disassociation and belonging. From experiences defined by an urban landscape—a thwarted customer at the door of a shuttered bookstore in Crete, a chance encounter with a might-have-been lover in Copenhagen—to the streets themselves, where “an alley was a comma in the agony’s grammar,” in David Keplinger’s hands startling images collide and mingle like bodies on a busy thoroughfare.
“Like Joseph Cornell’s elegant and bewitching boxes, David Keplinger’s poems are miniatures which reveal a universe.”