Saturday, February 28, 2015

Robert Lavett Smith- A Poem


Increasingly, these past few years,
I have seen my father’s face
in the bathroom mirror:
in my thinning hair, my beard
dimmed to the color of dust.
My gaze, blue as cold weather,
has begun to shine with
something I can’t quite name,
a yearning I seem to recognize.
But now that he’s gone,
the worn out limbs
glowing at last like the matchsticks
they had come to resemble,
the brain, a spent vessel finally unable
to hold his cluttered memories,
reduced by the gas jets
to a smoldering puddle
and eventually evaporated,
I see in my matinal reflection
traces of the flames that claimed him,
the glint in my eyes no longer
hope but the beginnings
of a conflagration, as though
the spark of his death had lit a fuse
somewhere deep within me.
Someday perhaps I will be
cremated as well, my ashes
mingled with those of my late wife,
scattered on the winds above the Golden Gate.
But however distant that day,
I sense the combustion
has already begun,
merciless and inexorable.
It’s coming for me,
biding its time inside me,
and even my aftershave
cannot quite disguise
a hint of burning flesh.

Son of the noted ichthyologist C. Lavett Smith, 1927-2015, Robert Lavett Smith was raised in New Jersey, and has lived since 1987 in San Francisco, where for the past sixteen years he has worked as a Special Education Paraprofessional. He has studied with Charles Simic and the late Galway Kinnell. He is the author of several chapbooks and three full-length poetry collections, the most recent of which is The Widower Considers Candles (Full Court Press, 2014).Two poems from this newest book have been nominated for the Pushcart Prize.

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