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ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Joan Larkin
Joan Larkin
Born in Massachusetts in 1939, Joan Larkin is the 2011 recipient of the Academy of American Poets Fellowship...
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FURTHER READING
Poems about Flying
A Kite for Aibhín
by Seamus Heaney
Balance
by Adam Zagajewski
Failing and Flying
by Jack Gilbert
Falling
by James Dickey
Flying
by Sarah Arvio
Flying at Night
by Ted Kooser
Poems about Jewish Experience
Kaddish, Part I
by Allen Ginsberg
A Little History
by David Lehman
An Old Cracked Tune
by Stanley Kunitz
Fugue of Death
by Paul Celan
Hey Allen Ginsberg Where Have You Gone and What Would You Think of My Drugs?
by Rachel Zucker
In a Country
by Larry Levis
In the Jewish Synagogue at Newport
by Emma Lazarus
In the Park
by Maxine Kumin
It had been long dark, though still an hour before supper-time.
by Charles Reznikoff
Jew
by Michael Blumenthal
Kissing Stieglitz Good-Bye
by Gerald Stern
Notes on the Spring Holidays, III, [Hanukkah]
by Charles Reznikoff
The Poem as Mask
by Muriel Rukeyser
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Afterlife

 
by Joan Larkin

Iím older than my father when he turned
bright gold and left his body with its used-up liver
in the Faulkner Hospital, Jamaica Plain.  I donít 
believe in the afterlife, donít know where he is 
now his flesh has finished rotting from his long 
bones in the Jewish Cemetery—he could be the only 
convert under those rows and rows of headstones.  
Once, washing dishes in a narrow kitchen 
I heard him whistling behind me.  My nape froze.  
Nothing like this has happened since.  But this morning 
we were on a plane to Virginia together.  I was 17, 
pregnant and scared.  Abortion was waiting, 
my auntís guest bed soaked with blood, my mother 
screaming—and he was saying Kids get into trouble—  
Iím getting it now: this was forgiveness.
I think if heíd lived heíd have changed and grown
but what would he have made of my flood of words			
after heíd said in a low voice as the plane
descended to Richmond in clean daylight
and the stewardess walked between the rows
in her neat skirt and tucked-in blouse
Donít ever tell this to anyone.






From My Body: New and Selected Poems by Joan Larkin. Copyright © 2007 by Joan Larkin. Used by permission of Hanging Loose Press.
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