Catherine Chandler's Poetry Blog

Thursday, November 10, 2016

Richard Wilbur Award-winning Book: Preview 1

My new book, The Frangible Hour, winner of the 2016 Richard Wilbur Award, will be out later this month. With that in mind, I'm going to publish a few of my favorite poems from that collection here on The Wonderful Boat over the next few days.

"What You Kept" is based on a very bittersweet experience, the clearing out of my parents' home after their deaths, my mother in 2011 and my father in 2012.

The poem is addressed to my mother, and is the fourth poem in the long poem in The Frangible Hour entitled "Four Songs of Parting". The poem was also a finalist for the Able Muse Write Prize, as part of a two-part elegy, "Discovery".

I hope you'll consider purchasing The Frangible Hour once it becomes available. I'll let you all know as soon as I do!

What You Kept

A mildewed trunk defending old receipts,
a cookie tin,
discolored carpets, pillowcases, sheets.
Easy enough, as are the Mason jars—
stuff for the trash or the recycling bin,
the church bazaars.
I toss aside what’s always needled me—
the plaque from John Paul’s Holy Jubilee,
the Norman Rockwell mugs, the Kinkade prints.

From underneath
a roll of batting and a bolt of chintz
I pull a faded ribbon-festooned box.
Inside, my fairy-stolen baby teeth
and first-shorn locks
acknowledge, in an elegant goodbye,  
that I was once the apple of your eye.

 -- Catherine Chandler


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