Commentary Magazine


Autobiography In The Year 1952

Around me my father built a huge care
    like a shipyard
And then I went forth from it and I was
    still unfinished
And he was left with his huge and empty
    care.
And my mother—like a tree on the shore
    between her arms stretched out after me.

And in the year ’31 my hands were merry
    and small
And in the year ’41 they learned to use a
    rifle
And when I loved my first love
My thoughts were like a burst of colored
    balloons
And a pale girl’s hand held them all
On a fine thread—and afterwards let them
    fly.

And in the year ’51 the movement of
    my life
Was like the movement of many slaves
    rowing a galley
And my father’s face was like a lantern at
    the end of the receding train,
And my mother shut up all the many clouds
    in her brown wardrobe.
And I climbed to the top of my street,
With the 20th century the blood in my
    veins,
Blood that wanted to run out in many wars,
Through many openings,
And therefore it beats on my head from
    within
And reaches the heart in angry waves.

But now, in the spring of ’52, I see
That more birds came back than left last
    winter.
And I return down the hillside to my house
And in my room the woman, and her body
    is heavy
And full of time.

_____________

 

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