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

Image of a red sunset

Around Sunset

JAMES RICHARDSON
The days seem kindlier near sunset, easier / when they are softly falling away / with that feeling of sad happiness / that we call moved, moved that we are moved / and maybe imagining in the dimming / all over town.

A bar lightbulb shining in the dark.

Black-Out Baby

JULIET S. K. KONO 
Somewea in Colorado. / One nite, one woman wen go into layba / wen was real hot unda the black-out lite. / Into this dark-kine time, one baby wuz born. / Da baby was me. One black-out baby— / nosing aroun in the dark / wid heavy kine eyes, / and a “yellow-belly."

Matthew Lippman

Was to Get It

MATTHEW LIPPMAN
I tried to get in touch with my inner knowledge. / Turns out I have no inner knowledge. / I used to think I did. / Could sit on a rock contemplating the frog, the river, the rotisserie chicken / and know that everything is connected to everything else.