Friday, January 7, 2011

A Deserter by Charles Reznikoff

The Poetry Foundation has just posted the poem A Deserter by Charles Reznikoff, a "blood-and-bone New Yorker," from the Black Sparrow collection The Poems Of Charles Reznikoff: 1918-1975:

A Deserter

Their new landlord was a handsome man. On his rounds to
collect rent she became friendly.
Finally, she asked him in to have a cup of tea. After that he
came often.

Once his mouth jerked, and turning, she saw her husband in
the doorway.
She thought, One of the neighbors must have told him.
She smiled and opened her mouth to speak, but could say
Her husband stood looking at the floor. He turned and went

She lay awake all night waiting for him.
In the morning she went to his store. It was closed.
She sent for his brothers and told them he had not been home.
They went to the police. Hospitals and morgues were
searched. For weeks they were called to identify drowned

His business had been prosperous; bank account and all were
untouched. She and their baby girl were provided for.
In a few years they heard of him. He was dead.
He had been making a poor living in a far off city. One day he
stepped in front of a street-car and was killed.

She married again. Her daughter married and had children.
She named none after her father.

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