Poetry April 2008

The Windshield

I

My breath is furring a windshield
where I sit in my windcheater,
engine shut off, jolted by a rearview mirror’s jolt,
and wait for my daughter

to be released from her rehearsal.
A production of Much Ado
in which she’s taking the part of Ursula.
All at once I recognize that shadow

coming toward me as my own,
all at once recognize the Cathedral car park
where my mother has sat

while I’ve been impressed by The Pirates of Penzance
or held forth in a debate, coming through the dark
to find her turned the wrong side out.

II

To find her turned the wrong side out
like a birch relieved of its bark,
a custom relieved of its consuetude,
would be to avail myself of this opportunity to remark

on the pros or cons
of the death penalty or animal captivity
or integrated education.
This house proposes that we are slaves of duty.

This house proposes that we not sully
the memory of a parent, least of all one who sends a judder
through a child,

unleashing rather that selfsame, satin-lined grizzly,
that selfsame man-eater
whose breath is furring the windshield.

Paul Muldoon’s recent collections include Horse Latitudes (2006) and Moy Sand and Gravel (2002), which received the Pulitzer Prize in poetry. He teaches at Princeton University.
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