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« A Question from Emily Dickinson [by David Lehman] | Main | The New York School Diaspora (Part Forty): Dara Wier [by Angela Ball] »

December 04, 2022


Kind of disturbing it perfectly paired with Frida Kahlo.

Care giving is the most difficult art. You do it well. You do it so it hurts, so it opens up the heart and mind. Thank you. Indran

What a beautiful poem. I love all the hummingbird imagery.

Transformation, not simile. She didn't resemble the hummingbird; she became the hummingbird. He didn't resemble her lungs; he became her lungs.

Really beautiful how well those hummingbirds do work and stunning how the speaker at nine years old appears blowing smoke in his mother's face--both these things unexpectedly propel Garcis's narrative. Great pick Terence, of a poem that grabs the reader suddenly and urgently.

Beautiful Poem--thank you!

quietly perfect poem, thank you benjamin garcia and terence and frida

Stunning ending and a beautiful poem throughout. Reading and re reading and enjoying. Thank you!

What Geoffrey Hines said. Yes.
I love it all. I should have smoked my fathers pipe for him but I guess he would not have approved— he had stopped smoking it when a lifelong friend died of cancer of the tongue after 65 years of pipe smoking. How awakening this poem is.

Don: Glad you liked it

Thanks for the comment, Michael

Beautiful tender poem.

Indulging an indulgence to assuage the dying it caused is both contradiction and compensation. The caregiver leavens discomfort through the agent of that discomfort: cigarette smoke. It’s both reminder and mercy. Or is it? Could it also be a final act of a nine-year-old child’s defiance, puffed by anger at a mother’s self-destructive habit? Maybe it’s a commingling of all those reasons. Death is the absence of more chances. The mother, the child, and we, the readers, are acutely aware of that. “Whatever / worked, I guess, my mother thought, / lived.” The fake flowers for the hummingbirds and very real smoke for the mother, in the end, worked. So does Benjamin Garcia’s poem--wonderfully.

I think the sense of the title is: [If she asked me,] I would give her my lungs. This describes the utter devotion of the author as a boy. To become the hummingbirds gave the mother a sense of release. She could dream of flying away. But bound to the bed, she found comfort in the help of her young son. We may detect a questioning air on the part of the author as an adult, but for the boy there is only empathy and loving compliance.

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That Ship Has Sailed
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"Lively and affectionate" Publishers Weekly


I left it
on when I
left the house
for the pleasure
of coming back
ten hours later
to the greatness
of Teddy Wilson
"After You've Gone"
on the piano
in the corner
of the bedroom
as I enter
in the dark

from New and Selected Poems by David Lehman


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