Mary Makofske

My Father, 1928

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from World Enough, and Time:

My Father, 1928

When you rose in morning dark,
strapped your feet in thick-soled boots
to stumble down the walk, down streets
where men and women lolled,
tangled in blankets, dreams, and arms
of those they loved, and did not love,
when you turned in the open gate,
the yard where horses waited
for your touch, horses whose names
you never forgot—Samson, Abel,
Seth, and Job—what did you want?

Where did you go as you followed
a horse’s balloon of breath, the echo
of his iron-clad step, down streets
whitewashed with winter, chiming
milky bottles against stoops and peering
in steamy windows of flats and houses?

The empties rattled like the change
you couldn’t keep in your pocket.
Someone had given you the route
and a horse that knew it. You let
the reins go slack in your hands.