Friday, September 29, 2006

Gerald Stern

My Sister’s Funeral

Since there was no mother for the peach tree we did it
all alone, which made the two of us closer
though closeness brought its loneliness, and it would
have been better I think sometimes to be sterile
from the start just to avoid the pain
which in my life this far has lasted seventy
years for I am in love with a skeleton
on whose small bones a dress hung for a while,
on whose small skull a bit of curly hair
was strung, and what is dust I still don’t know
since there was no mother to turn to then and ask
what else was she wearing, did she have on shoes,
and were the two trees from Georgia, and was it
true somebody said the other peach
should have died instead of her; and I could
imagine the nose going first though forty years later
the trees were still there and not as big as you’d think;
and it was my cousin Red with the flabby lips
who said it, he had red eyes, a red monstrosity,
a flabby body, half the house was filled with
male cousins, they were born in rooms a
short distance from the rats, I can’t remember
which ones had the accents nor what his
Hebrew name was, nor his English.

"My Sister’s Funeral" is reprinted from Everything is Burning ( 2005) - by Gerald Stern - published by W. W. Norton & Company, Inc.

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