I Am Seven: My Father Picks Me Up
on the corner of 42nd and Wilson
Snow put its cold hands in, one on a
shoulder, the other down my sleeve,
and his name rising upward.
Snow started to bear me away.
Battened by snow, cars moistly glowing
nudged their way down Wilson Street
and more headlights swallowed my eyes. Snow
pushed forward a familiar bumper,
fresh from the factory, this car stopped.
Cold white beaches sparkled behind me.
A second time the door was shut. Heat blew
on the top of my head
and houses stalled then bricked away.
Rooftops composed snow.
Each flake as it fell concentrated into itself—
patterns of fragility that could be dissolved,
tip-tap, in a number of ways.
I try to think of him pausing
always stopping there, the winter cargo
being shipped out— with me out there.
That old story of a snow adventure fatigued,
flooding our bodies in all directions. Things
not turning wrong,
my cold hands not letting him go.
Compelled by the words that stay in your mouth,
this is the best in the delicious you may
ever feel, so what is it?
do you want to taste her caution?
Hair must stay down. Wet your hair with your fingers
the entire mass at the altar where you vanish
in the rain and she holds still or seems to hold
Look quiet, look at her breasts,
a chant of baby names during sensations.
While she stands there, chin over the paten’s
reach, her eyes bring Dawn to the cheeks
delicious, the slightest movement in her dress
hints of intimate genuflections, why not admit it?
you were happy then.
Is her face coming for you? The church
is warm, tongue freshly wet. You sense her legs
tight against one another and two hands
go to your heart.
WILLIAM DOW is Professor of American Literature at the Université Paris-Est (UPEM) and Professor of English at The American University of Paris. He is an Associate Editor of Literary Journalism Studies (Northwestern University Press) and has published articles in such journals as Publications of the Modern Language Association, The Emily Dickinson Journal, Twentieth-Century Literature, ESQ: A Journal of the American Renaissance, Critique, The Hemingway Review, MELUS, Revue Française D'Etudes Américaines, Actes Sud, Prose Studies, and Etudes Anglaises. He is the author of the book, Narrating Class in American Fiction (Palgrave Macmillan, 2009), co-editor of Richard Wright: New Readings in the 21st Century (Palgrave Macmillan, 2011) and Richard Wright in a Post-Racial Imaginary (Bloomsbury, 2014). He is currently completing a book-length study on American Modernism and radicalism entitled Reinventing Persuasion: Literary Journalism and the American Radical Tradition, 1900-2000, and is co-editor of the forthcoming Routledge Companion to American Literary Journalism.