In Knowledge of Young Boys

Toi Derricotte

 
i knew you before you had a mother,
when you were newtlike, swimming,
a horrible brain in water.
i knew you when your connections
belonged only to yourself,
when you had no history
to hook on to,
barnacle,
when you had no sustenance of metal
when you had no boat to travel
when you stayed in the same
place, treading the question;
i knew you when you were all
eyes and a cocktail,
blank as the sky of a mind,
a root, neither ground nor placental;
not yet
red with the cut nor astonished
by pain, one terrible eye
open in the center of your head
to night, turning, and the stars
blinked like a cat. we swam
in the last trickle of champagne
before we knew breastmilk—we
shared the night of the closet,
the parasitic
closing on our thumbprint,
we were smudged in a yellow book.
son, we were oak without
mouth, uncut, we were
brave before memory.
 
From Poems from the Women's Movement, Honor Moore, ed., Library of America. Copyright © 2009. Used by permission of the author. All rights reserved.

Poems by This Author

Cherry blossoms by Toi Derricotte
I went down to
Elegy for my husband by Toi Derricotte
What was there is no longer there
Love Story in Black and White by Toi Derricotte
What the hell am I doing
The Weakness by Toi Derricotte
That time my grandmother dragged me


Further Reading

Poems about Drinking
"To Speak of Woe That Is in Marriage"
by Robert Lowell
Driving and Drinking [North to Parowan Gap]
by David Lee
A Drinking Song
by W. B. Yeats
A Glass of Beer
by James Stephens
At the Blue Note
by Pablo Medina
Be Drunk
by Charles Baudelaire
California Plush
by Frank Bidart
Compulsively Allergic to the Truth
by Jeffrey McDaniel
Dangerous for Girls
by Connie Voisine
Days of Me
by Stuart Dischell
Deer Dancer
by Joy Harjo
Deer Hit
by Jon Loomis
Fallen Apples
by Tom Hansen
Father Listens to the Artists
by David Petruzelli
Homecoming
by Robert Lowell
I Love the Hour Just Before
by Todd Boss
I taste a liquor never brewed (214)
by Emily Dickinson
In Vino Veritas
by Howard Altmann
Jet
by Tony Hoagland
Joey Awake Now
by Glyn Maxwell
Love is Not All (Sonnet XXX)
by Edna St. Vincent Millay
Michael's Wine
by Sandra Alcosser
My Papa's Waltz
by Theodore Roethke
Nights
by Harvey Shapiro
On 52nd Street
by Philip Levine
Parties: A Hymn of Hate
by Dorothy Parker
Picking Up
by Evelyn Duncan
Scrambled Eggs and Whiskey
by Hayden Carruth
Shooting Rats at the Bibb County Dump
by David Bottoms
The Bottom
by Denise Duhamel
The Drunken Fisherman
by Robert Lowell
The Eternal City
by Jim Simmerman
The Silence
by Philip Schultz
the suicide kid
by Charles Bukowski
The Summer House
by Tony Connor
Vodka
by Joel Brouwer
When a Woman Loves a Man
by David Lehman
Wine Tasting
by Kim Addonizio
Poems Teens Like
Howl, Parts I & II
by Allen Ginsberg
A Muse
by Reginald Shepherd
Alice at Seventeen: Like a Blind Child
by Darcy Cummings
Ave Maria
by Frank O'Hara
Ballad
by Sonia Sanchez
Because it looked hotter that way
by Camille T. Dungy
Charlotte Brontë in Leeds Point
by Stephen Dunn
Cicada
by John Blair
Coach Losing His Daughter
by Jack Ridl
Dangerous for Girls
by Connie Voisine
Deer Hit
by Jon Loomis
Falling
by James Dickey
Flowers of Rad
by Sampson Starkweather
Ground Swell
by Mark Jarman
homage to my hips
by Lucille Clifton
Lady Tactics
by Anne Waldman
Mairsy and Dosey
by Sharon Olds
Making a Fist
by Naomi Shihab Nye
Mermaid Song
by Kim Addonizio
Notes from the Other Side
by Jane Kenyon
Patience
by Kay Ryan
Possum Crossing
by Nikki Giovanni
Sticks
by Thomas Sayers Ellis
Thanks
by W. S. Merwin
That Sure is My Little Dog
by Eleanor Lerman
The Changing Light
by Lawrence Ferlinghetti
The Fist
by Derek Walcott
The New Higher
by John Ashbery
The Pomegranate
by Eavan Boland
The Wild Iris
by Louise Glück
The Young Man's Song
by W. B. Yeats
White Apples
by Donald Hall
Workshop
by Billy Collins
Poems about the Self
canvas and mirror
by Evie Shockley
Days of Me
by Stuart Dischell
Excelsior
by Walt Whitman
I Am Not Yours
by Sara Teasdale
I Am!
by John Clare
In Whoever's Hotel Room This Is
by Matt Rasmussen
Intimacy
by Paisley Rekdal
Next Day
by Randall Jarrell
Red Bank
by Lesle Lewis
Song for Future Books
by Joanna Fuhrman
Song of Myself, I, II, VI & LII
by Walt Whitman
The Suicide
by Edna St. Vincent Millay
The Summer of Reconciliation
by D. Nurkse
The Whole World Is Gone
by Jennifer Grotz
Untitled [Is is]
by Srikanth Reddy
Your Brain Is Yours
by Natalie Lyalin