Tag Archives: maxine kumin

Feb 10, 2014

Dear readers,

I said I’d never work hard on Monday again, and now look. My apologies. And I won’t wax verbose this morning, merely noting that Pulitzer prize-winning poet Maxine Kumin (1925-2014) died over the weekend. She was the Library of Congress’ poetry consultant (aka the poet laureate) from 1981-1982, and wrote a lot about her native New England. Today’s poem is a reflection on mortality–another’s, not her own–and in some of its imagery is probably a decent lead-in to next week’s poem. Enjoy. -ed.


Shall I say how it is in your clothes?
A month after your death I wear your blue jacket.
The dog at the center of my life recognizes
you’ve come to visit, he’s ecstatic.
In the left pocket, a hole.
In the right, a parking ticket
delivered up last August on Bay State Road.
In my heart, a scatter like milkweed,
a flinging from the pods of the soul.
My skin presses your old outline.
It is hot and dry inside.
I think of the last day of your life,
old friend, how I would unwind it, paste
it together in a different collage,
back from the death car idling in the garage,
back up the stairs, your praying hands unlaced,
reassembling the bits of bread and tuna fish
into a ceremony of sandwich,
running the home movie backward to a space
we could be easy in, a kitchen place
with vodka and ice, our words like living meat.
Dear friend, you have excited crowds
with your example. They swell
like wine bags, straining at your seams.
I will be years gathering up our words,
fishing out letters, snapshots, stains,
leaning my ribs against this durable cloth
to put on the dumb blue blazer of your death.