My Mother’s Whitman, by Paul Hostovsky

Paul Hostovsky
MY MOTHER’S WHITMAN

which is my Whitman now
sits on my shelf
reclines actually
horizontally
displaying its spine
above the spines
of ten or twenty
younger slenderer poets
and it’s almost
sexual the way
he’s in them
unquestionably
his influence
all over them

the way my mother
who never remarried
after my father died
never dated never
kissed another man or
woman on the mouth
for twenty long years
then died herself
still beautiful in
her early sixties
is in my voice
and in my hunger
and in my reticence
which is her reticence.

Author’s Comment: A lot of the books on my shelf were my mother’s before they became mine after she died almost twenty years ago. Many of them are brittle, fragile, brownish around the edges, falling apart. I don’t read them much anymore. But I love the smell of them.

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