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J U L Y   1 9 9 4

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by Steven Cramer

Hear Steven Cramer read this poem (in RealAudio):

RA 28.8, RA 14.4

(For help, see a note about the audio.)

Also by Steven Cramer:
Villanelle After A Burial (1997)
The Accident (1990)

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The night we knew for sure,
I sat with three or four men in a bar,
Men who need a drink before they'll speak,
Whose voices shrink to mutterings
If they touch the cusp of feeling.

Then in walked my dead father,
All compressed hilarity and need --
Stooped hands-in-pockets shuffle,
Unbuttoned lamb's wool cardigan,
Its country club insignia two putters
Crossed against the C above his heart.

I knew he'd sit across from me
Reluctantly, and not look up.
Then he'd stand and amble to the bar,
Flipping quarters into the till
To charm the waitresses.

I knew no one makes the old man see
What he doesn't want to see, especially
When he's drunk and full of feeling.
Then, from a room across the bar,
Where I knew you lay in labor,
I heard our firstborn cry.

Copyright © 1994 by The Atlantic Monthly Company. All rights reserved.
The Atlantic Monthly; July 1994; The Night We Knew for Sure; Volume 274, No. 1; page 88.

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