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You Can Have It Analysis

Author: Poetry of Philip Levine Type: Poetry Views: 759

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My brother comes home from workand climbs the stairs to our room.I can hear the bed groan and his shoes dropone by one. You can have it, he says.The moonlight streams in the windowand his unshaven face is whitenedlike the face of the moon. He will sleeplong after noon and waken to find me gone.Thirty years will pass before I rememberthat moment when suddenly I knew each manhas one brother who dies when he sleepsand sleeps when he rises to face this life,and that together they are only one mansharing a heart that always labours, handsyellowed and cracked, a mouth that gaspsfor breath and asks, Am I gonna make it?All night at the ice plant he had fedthe chute its silvery blocks, and then Istacked cases of orange soda for the childrenof Kentucky, one gray boxcar at a timewith always two more waiting. We were twentyfor such a short time and always inthe wrong clothes, crusted with dirtand sweat. I think now we were never twenty.In 1948 the city of Detroit, foundedby de la Mothe Cadillac for the distant purposesof Henry Ford, no one wakened or died,no one walked the streets or stoked a furnace,for there was no such year, and nowthat year has fallen off all the old newspapers,calendars, doctors' appointments, bondswedding certificates, drivers licenses.The city slept. The snow turned to ice.The ice to standing pools or riversracing in the gutters. Then the bright grass rosebetween the thousands of cracked squares,and that grass died. I give you back 1948.I give you all the years from thento the coming one. Give me back the moonwith its frail light falling across a face.Give me back my young brother, hardand furious, with wide shoulders and a cursefor God and burning eyes that look uponall creation and say, You can have it.


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