“The Portrait” by Stanley Kunitz

My mother never forgave my father
for killing himself,
especially at such an awkward time
and in a public park,
that spring
when I was waiting to be born.
She locked his name
in her deepest cabinet
and would not let him out,
though I could hear him thumping.
When I came down from the attic
with the pastel portrait in my hand
of a long-lipped stranger
with a brave moustache
and deep brown level eyes,
she ripped it into shreds
without a single word
and slapped me hard.
In my sixty-fourth year
I can feel my cheek
still burning.

This entry was posted in family, growing up, poetry and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

1 Response to “The Portrait” by Stanley Kunitz

  1. anvilcrow says:

    A SLAP
    A BELT TO ASS CHEEKS
    A KICK
    IN THE SHINS
    SOME HUGS
    MOSTLY
    PUSH AWAYS

    YOU
    NEED TO FIGHT BACK
    PROTECT
    YOURSELF
    NO ONE
    WILL
    DO
    IT
    FOR YOU

    STRANGE LOVE LESSONS
    DIFFICULT
    TO
    TRANSFORM

    A STRUGGLE
    A PAINFUL
    TEARING
    SCREAMING
    TO LOVE MYSELF
    TO
    A HEALING
    TO TRUST OTHERS
    TO
    LOVE

    MOSTLY TO FORGIVE

    TO SIT
    TO
    SWEEP
    THE GARDEN

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