Coronation

By GARY J. WHITEHEAD

I’ll never know the rupture and the gush,
the crown, or the crowning, the gummy grin
of the vulva, hair for teeth, the soft orb
forced forth without volition, the pungent room,
king mushroom wrenched from its mycelium.

Or parade or pageantry or one-car
motorcade. Or skid knee or broken bone.
Or gold star, or silver, face on the fridge.
Or the balled loss—like a runaway pearl—
of the one gone before his time. Or hers.

A loss like theirs, who entered the chapel
in the litter of their reciprocal grief
while their son’s song wound down to its end
and we all looked on as some of us had
years before, at his baptism, the deacon

dipping his head into the marble font,
his tiny crown anointed—as kings, priests,
and prophets are except with sacred oil.
What a small solace to know I’d never
feel such grief, I must have thought on the route

back to our empty house, steering through
the city’s slush, crossing over the steel
bridge, and heading back up the palisades,
alongside which the brackish river flowed
like a gilded carpet toward the sea.

 

[Purchase Issue 15 here.]

Gary J. Whitehead’s poems appear or are forthcoming in The New Yorker, Ploughshares, EPOCH, and Parnassus. His most recent book is A Glossary of Chickens. Whitehead received the 2017 Anne Halley Poetry Prize from The Massachusetts Review.

Coronation

Related Posts

Kentucky farmland

64-West & KY State Fair

D.S. WALDMAN
And how, / if we keep going, pushing ourselves farther / from ourselves, we’d see, eventually, the blankness / we were one day born into. / I forget what you / told me after—I think it had something to do / with loneliness.     

Huang, Kwok-Keung

Translation: Hong Kong Poet Chung Kwok-keung

CHUNG KWOK-KEUNG
I scour my memories for your place / Patterns on the tiles blur more and more / Shadows of feet sway between unextinguished cigarette butts / Discrete chewing sounds have vanished around the corner / How do I verify the month and year / Of the tea stains that remain...

Zebra finches on a branch

Anticipating, Zebra Finches

JOHN KINSELLA
Just below, a roo doe digs into the softest / soil it can find — avoiding rocks — to make / a hollow for itself and the joey heavy in its pouch; / it lifts, digs, turns drops lifts digs turns drops.