In this first year of your death
I have crawled in a kind of infancy
toward my first sensible utterance,
my first erect step into the future.
When you died the years of my life
dropped in a litter,
on hands and knees
howling in the dark.
I have had to remember you
stroking my ear to help me sleep
to help me sleep again
and dream of wholeness.
For what is infancy but peril
held at arm's length
by the vigilant parent
in the dark room.
And what is growth
but my first step away from your arms,
my first word
that separates us forever.
KIRTLAND SNYDER has published three chapbooks of poetry: Winter Light (introduced by poet Cid Corman), Soldiers of Fortune (a collaboration with the American painter, Leon Golub), and Big, Broken-Hearted Arias—all from Innerer Klang Press (Boston/Asheville). In 2007, he won the Stanley Kunitz Award for Excellence in Poetry and was nominated for a Pushcart Prize in Poetry. His book-length manuscript of poems, House of Earth, was a Finalist in the Paris Review Poetry Prize competition. His Holocaust poetry is among the work of American and British poets examined in Professor Susan Gubar’s book Poetry After Auschwitz (Indiana University Press, 2003).
He has also published poetry, fiction, and nonfiction in many literary magazines, anthologies and newspapers, among them Ms., Midstream, Stuff (The Boston Phoenix), Exquisite Corpse, notus/new writing, Modern Haiku, Longhouse, Poet Lore, The Hampden-Sydney Poetry Review, The Café Review, New Works Review, Sanctuary, The Hartford Courant, Paramour, aspen leaves, The Boston Monthly, The Ardis Anthology of New American Poetry, and Blood To Remember: American Poets on the Holocaust.