Oblivion

OBLIVION

by Maxine Kumin


The dozen ways they did it --
off a bridge, the back of a boat,
pills, head in the oven, or
wrapped in her mother's old mink coat
in the garage, a brick on the accelerator,
the Cougar's motor thrumming
while she crossed over.

What they left behind --
the outline of a stalled novel, diaries,
their best poems, the note that ends

offspring of various ages, spouses
who cared and weep and yet
admit relief now that it's over.

How they fester, the old details
held to the light like a stained-glass icon
-- the shotgun in the mouth, the string
from toe to trigger; the tongue
a blue plum forced between his lips
when he hanged himself in her closet --
for us it is never over

who raced to the scene, cut the noose,
pulled the bathtub plug on pink water,
broke windows, turned off the gas,
rode in the ambulance, only minutes later
to take the body blow of bad news.
We are trapped in the plot, every one.
Left behind, there is no oblivion.
 


Maxine Kumin received the Pulitzer Prize for poetry in 1973 and the Ruth Lilly poetry prize last year. Her most recent book is (2000).


All material copyright © 2000 . All rights reserved.


 

Presented by

How to Cook Spaghetti Squash (and Why)

Cooking for yourself is one of the surest ways to eat well. Bestselling author Mark Bittman teaches James Hamblin the recipe that everyone is Googling.

Join the Discussion

After you comment, click Post. If you’re not already logged in you will be asked to log in or register.

blog comments powered by Disqus

Video

How to Cook Spaghetti Squash (and Why)

Cooking for yourself is one of the surest ways to eat well.

Video

Before Tinder, a Tree

Looking for your soulmate? Write a letter to the "Bridegroom's Oak" in Germany.

Video

The Health Benefits of Going Outside

People spend too much time indoors. One solution: ecotherapy.

Video

Where High Tech Meets the 1950s

Why did Green Bank, West Virginia, ban wireless signals? For science.

Video

Yes, Quidditch Is Real

How J.K. Rowling's magical sport spread from Hogwarts to college campuses

Video

Would You Live in a Treehouse?

A treehouse can be an ideal office space, vacation rental, and way of reconnecting with your youth.

More in Entertainment

Just In