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April is the Coolest Month – Just Poets Favorite Poem for April 29

As part of National Poetry Month, Just Poets members will share their favorite poems along with a brief note about why the poem is their favorite poem. Today’s poem is selected by Ann C. Putnam.

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Stanley Kunitz

Quinnapoxet

I was fishing in the abandoned reservoir
back in Quinnapoxet,
where the snapping turtles cruised
and the bullheads swayed
in their bower of tree-stumps,
sleek as eels and pigeon-fat.
One of them gashed my thumb
with a flick of his razor fin
when I yanked the barb
out of his gullet.
The sun hung its terrible coals
over Buteau's farm: I saw
the treetops seething.

They came suddenly into view
on the Indian road,
evenly stepping
past the apple orchard,
commingling with the dust
they raised, their cloud of being,
against the dripping light
looming larger and bolder.
She was wearing a mourning bonnet
and a wrap of shining taffeta.
“Why don't you write?” she cried
from the folds of her veil.
“We never hear from you.”

I had nothing to say to her.
But for him who walked behind her
in his dark worsted suit,
with his face averted
as if to hide a scald,
deep in his other life,
I touched my forehead
with my swollen thumb
and splayed my fingers out –
in deaf mute country
the sign for father.

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Just Poets Member Statement:

Kunitz’s metaphors of pain – his father drowned himself in a pond while Kunitz was in his mother’s womb – show lifelong effects of  his longings and his mother’s anger.

– Ann C. Putnam

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“Quinnapoxit” appears in The Collected Poems, which is available by clicking here.

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