The Difference between a Child and a Poem

Michael Blumenthal

 
If you are terrified of your own death,
and want to escape from it,
you may want to write a poem,
for the poem might carry your name
into eternity, the poem
may become immortal, beyond flesh
and fashion, it may be read
in a thousand years by someone
as frightened of death as you are,
in a dark field, at night,
when he has failed once again at love
and there is no illusion with which to escape
the inward pull of his own flesh
against the narrowing margins of the spirit.
But if you have accepted your own death,
if you have pinched daily the corroborating flesh,
and have passed the infinite gravestones
bearing your name, if you know for certain
that the day will one day come
when you will gaze into the mirror in search of your face
and find only a silence, then
you may want to make a child, you may want to push
the small oracles of flesh forward
into some merely finite but lengthening story,
you may want to toss your seed into the wind
like a marigold, or a passion fruit, and watch
as a fresh flower grows in your place, as your face
inches onto another face, and your eyes
slip down over your cheeks onto the forehead
of your silenced, speakable future.
And, then, when you are done with all that,
you may want to write a poem.
 
From The Wages of Goodness, published by University of Missouri Press. Copyright © 1992 by Michael Blumenthal. Used by permission of the author.

Poems by This Author

Be Kind by Michael Blumenthal
Not merely because Henry James said
Fish Fucking by Michael Blumenthal
Jew by Michael Blumenthal
The melancholy of Chopin and cruel breathing
Manners by Michael Blumenthal
Just because a man pulls out your chair for you
Night Baseball by Michael Blumenthal
At night, when I go out to the field
Stones by Michael Blumenthal
We live in dread of something
Suburban by Michael Blumenthal
Conformity caught here, nobody catches it
The Nurse by Michael Blumenthal
Now come the purple garments, now the white
United Jewish Appeal by Michael Blumenthal
My grandmother was eighty-nine and blind


Further Reading

Poems About Birth and Parenting
A Woman Waits for Me
by Walt Whitman
Acrobat
by Elise Paschen
After Making Love We Hear Footsteps
by Galway Kinnell
Before the Birth of One of Her Children
by Anne Bradstreet
Central Park, Carousel
by Meena Alexander
Curriculum Vitae
by Lisel Mueller
Daughter-Mother-Maya-Seeta
by Reetika Vazirani
Gods
by Michael Redhill
Goodnight Moon
by James Arthur
Honey
by Arielle Greenberg
In a Landscape: IV
by John Gallaher
Infant Joy
by William Blake
Lost in thought, the baby
by Rebecca Wolff
Morning Song
by Sylvia Plath
Motherhood, 1951
by Ai
Shoulders
by Naomi Shihab Nye
The Mother
by Gwendolyn Brooks
The Sick Child
by Robert Louis Stevenson
To My Mother Waiting on 10/01/54
by Teresa Carson
Tract
by William Carlos Williams
Wedding Album 1977
by Tess Taylor
With Child
by Genevieve Taggard
You Begin
by Margaret Atwood