Provenance

By Martin Tucker

“She’ll throw my things away, put them in the garbage,”

This he said to me as he lay dying, his eyes hollow.

“My papers. My statues, they’ll go down the drain.”

 

I touched his hand veined with blue,

once a muscle of sinew

that moved a mound of marble in his yard.

 

“No, she’ll find a home for them,” I replied.

“What she can’t sell, she’ll give away,” he cried.

“No,” I said again,” she needs time to store them.”

 

Twenty years have passed since I stood at his bed.

I bought two paintings and a sculpture from the widow.

I’ve saved those, keeping my pledge.

 

I’m moving now,

We bought a condo in town.

Too many things to let go.

 

The sculpture can’t be moved,

It’s rooted in our yard,

We built a frame round it to ground it.

 

Possession outweighs costs, once I thought.

Letting go is eternal too.

Memory now must be art to guide me by.

 

——————-

Martin Tucker co-founded and served as Editor-in-Chief of Confrontation for 42 years until his retirement.  He has published five collections of his poetry, and also several works of literary criticism, among them the widely-praised Literary Exile in the Twentieth Century. His reviews, essays, poetry and fiction have appeared in The New York Times Book Review, The Nation, The New Republic, The Commonweal, Chicago Jewish Forum, West African Review, Research in African Literatures, Boulevard, Epoch and elsewhere.  He served for 23 years on the Executive Board of PEN American Center and for two terms on the Governing Board of Poetry Society of America.


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