Naomi Schub

A Poem in Three Parts

I.

In my dreams my father is a different color.

On the couch, my head against his grey shoulder

as I cry: he will never meet my children—

the one thing we both wanted

for me. And as he pads across the living room,

that familiar old-man gait, my hands are trying

for his shirt-back, a cloudy ink

like the rest of him.

As slowly as he’s going, I can’t keep up,

and, awake now, I am still there,

swimming along the wooden floor,

my ears stopped like cork in a wine bottle.

 

II.

The living keep living.

I laugh and work and speak.

I fuck. With joy.

I listen to the news. Without.

 

I exercise and, walking home one night, hear, it seems for the first time,

Midnight Train to Georgia

and am doubled over—

there is my father, a Technicolor

Pip, singing and swaying along in the kitchen,

chopping garlic and tomatoes

grown on the back porch.

A pan sizzles and nothing is muted. Chuck Berry

comes on like a box of matches catching fire.

 

III.

There is another

song-story:

one going home and one

growing

into his name.

 

I listen

and have to

stop. I spill

salt by

and not by

chance—

it has to be

fair; what

else

do we deserve?  

 

This Memory Isn’t Mine

The 1979 light off the water.

My parents, younger than I am now,

rolling away from each other off

a blue raft into the ocean.

 

My parents, younger than I am now,

with nothing but each other, and time, set out:

a blue raft into the ocean.

Years later they’d wonder what happened and

 

with nothing but each other, and time, set out:

North to the city, and inward, away.

Years later they’d wonder what happened and

what they’d done to deserve such complete fucking misery.

 

North to the city, and inward, away—

there was no pouring the liquor back in the bottle, no coming back from

what they’d done to deserve such complete fucking misery.

So, quietly, we watched, my brother and I; we learned.

 

There was no pouring the liquor back in the bottle, no coming back from

what was said and done—what was not said. What was not done.

So quietly, we watched, my brother and I; we learned

to take what we could get, to stop imagining how it could have been.

 

What was said and done—what was not said? What was not done?

Rolling away from each other, off

to take what we could get, to stop imagining how it could have been:

The 1979 light off the water.


thumb_IMG_1116_1024Naomi is a teacher living in Sydney, where the pizza isn’t nearly as good.  She once “wandered through the ugliest part of Prospect Park / in a September when nothing felt new.” 

 

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