Men as Friends

Robin Becker

I have a few which is news to me
Tom drops by in the mornings with his travel
mug my mother would call it a coffee klatchwe review our terrible histories with fathers
and talk about the father he’s become and how much
it will cost to replace gutters the ice brought downand then there’s soft-spoken Harvey
with whom I enjoy long pauses in conversation about how
they raised the Nelson town hall and put a foundation underneathduring which we both look up at Mt. Monadnock and then down
at the ground and then back at each other silence precipitating
the pretty weather we share before he goes inside for lunchwhen I had to pack up my office Tom boxed
and loaded books into my car I didn’t think he’d want to
but his idea of friendship includes carrying heavy thingsat the dog park the retired Marine with the schnauzer
asked Do you have a husband? I replied I don’t care for men
in that way as a Marine James mostly played cardson a supply ship now he mostly hunts and fishes
climbs his orchard ladder for my Cortlands
and in trout season leaves, in my fridge, two rainbows

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Robin  Becker

Robin Becker received the Lambda Award in Poetry for All-American Girl and has held fellowships from the Massachusetts Cultural Council, the National Endowment for the Arts, and the Radcliffe Institute at Harvard. Her books include Tiger Heron, Domain of Perfect Affection, The Horse Fair, and Giacometti’s Dog. Professor Emeritus of English and Women’s Studies at Penn State, Becker serves as poetry and contributing editor for the Women’s Review of Books.

“For many years Robin Becker has been writing some of the best poems of our generation. Her devotion to what Frost called ‘vocal imagination’ weds the laconic, half-humorous, half sorrowing quality of her speech to the quiet virtuosity of her music. But what I most value is her clear-eyed affection for other people. To quote Thom Gunn, her poems ‘bypass the self like love.’”
—Tom Sleigh

“Poems are as large as the soul of the one who made them—one of the rare examples of justice this world affords. Behold in these poems a soul as deep and all-encompassing as humanity can boast. Behold the thread of mourning in a Scottish reel, the tally of enslavement in the lacerated hands of a Cambodian deckhand; behold, above all, the record of joy. Joy is the miracle here, a stubborn daily devotion to our broken world.”
—Linda Gregerson

“These celebratory and mournful poems, so artful and intelligent, so smart and sharp with linguistic leaps and returns and reversals, derive from Becker’s imaginative encounters with the everyday, often in its immediacy—a hummingbird, a black bear, a coppiced tree, a Yankee barn sale. Becker is the perfect companion, intimate and revelatory, with whom to see the world.”
—Richard McCann

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