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My Father's Love Letters Analysis

Author: Poetry of Yusef Komunyakaa Type: Poetry Views: 690

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On Fridays he'd open a can of Jax

After coming home from the mill,

& ask me to write a letter to my mother

Who sent postcards of desert flowers

Taller than men. He would beg,

Promising to never beat her

Again. Somehow I was happy

She had gone, & sometimes wanted

To slip in a reminder, how Mary Lou

Williams' "Polka Dots & Moonbeams"

Never made the swelling go down.

His carpenter's apron always bulged

With old nails, a claw hammer

Looped at his side & extension cords

Coiled around his feet.

Words rolled from under the pressure

Of my ballpoint: Love,

Baby, Honey, Please.

We sat in the quiet brutality

Of voltage meters & pipe threaders,

Lost between sentences . . .

The gleam of a five-pound wedge

On the concrete floor

Pulled a sunset

Through the doorway of his toolshed.

I wondered if she laughed

& held them over a gas burner.

My father could only sign

His name, but he'd look at blueprints

& say how many bricksFormed each wall. This man,

Who stole roses & hyacinth

For his yard, would stand there

With eyes closed & fists balled,

Laboring over a simple word, almost

Redeemed by what he tried to say.


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