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You Can Have It Analysis

Author: poem of Philip Levine Type: poem Views: 12

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My brother comes home from work

and climbs the stairs to our room.

I can hear the bed groan and his shoes drop

one by one. You can have it, he says.

The moonlight streams in the window

and his unshaven face is whitened

like the face of the moon. He will sleep

long after noon and waken to find me gone.

Thirty years will pass before I remember

that moment when suddenly I knew each man

has one brother who dies when he sleeps

and sleeps when he rises to face this life,

and that together they are only one man

sharing a heart that always labours, hands

yellowed and cracked, a mouth that gasps

for breath and asks, Am I gonna make it?

All night at the ice plant he had fed

the chute its silvery blocks, and then I

stacked cases of orange soda for the children

of Kentucky, one gray boxcar at a time

with always two more waiting. We were twenty

for such a short time and always in

the wrong clothes, crusted with dirt

and sweat. I think now we were never twenty.

In 1948 the city of Detroit, founded

by de la Mothe Cadillac for the distant purposes

of Henry Ford, no one wakened or died,

no one walked the streets or stoked a furnace,

for there was no such year, and now

that year has fallen off all the old newspapers,

calendars, doctors' appointments, bonds

wedding certificates, drivers licenses.

The city slept. The snow turned to ice.

The ice to standing pools or rivers

racing in the gutters. Then the bright grass rose

between the thousands of cracked squares,

and that grass died. I give you back 1948.

I give you all the years from then

to the coming one. Give me back the moon

with its frail light falling across a face.

Give me back my young brother, hard

and furious, with wide shoulders and a curse

for God and burning eyes that look upon

all creation and say, You can have it.


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| Posted on 2017-06-30 | by a guest

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Its about the poet's working life which affect his relationship with his bro such that he misses him really bad.

| Posted on 2008-03-11 | by a guest

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