This week’s poem, “After I Read Your Obituary,” is by fellow CantoMundista Natalie Scenters-Zapico. The poem comes from her collection The Verging Cities which I was fortunate enough to get to review for The Volta Blog. In my review, I focus on the phrase “Let me learn you how” (found early in the collection) as a key to open up the powerful reading experience Scenters-Zapico has worked out for us.
This week’s poem provides an example of what I mean in the way the speaker’s experience with reading an obituary comes to life for her and the reader through an expanding conceit and attention to detail. As the poem develops, so does the speaker’s engagement with the reality of the dead and the worlds that engagement creates.
Read my review of Natalie Scenters-Zapico’s The Verging Cities here.
After I Read Your Obituary – Natalie Scenters-Zapico
you crawl into bed with my husband
and me. Your body is smaller
than I remember; I hush your voice
when you complain: the aloe-vera
in the pot is made of plastic.
Your breathing grows, a weed
in monsoon—you whisper: mother,
father, and sister fell open as birds
in their chairs when they were shot
at dinner. You show me how
you dove under the table, felt specks
of their blood on your lips before
seeing the scuffs on your father’s leather
shoes. You tell me, you buried
your family in the walls of an abandoned
restaurant, so you could travel to my home
to measure the depth of my new weather-proof
windows. With the tip of the plastic
succulent I rub your swollen ears.
I tell you: in this new country I am worse
than the city of thousands dead,
I am a wound red with iodine. My husband
wakes and I beg him for water
I’ve never known to taste so clean.
See you next Friday!