2013 Poetry Month #1 – My Father’s Closet

“My Father’s Closet” by D. Nurkse is the first piece for National Poetry Month.  This is taken from the book “Burnt Island”, published in 2005 by Alfred A. Knopf.

1. HAT

As soon as I put in on
Brooklyn went dark,
but when I took it off
my wooden horse stared at me
with dazzling glass eyes.


The shirred hem
swished on the floor.
Huge shoulders sloped
like pines under snow.
A panel in the lapel
read: Kuut, Tallinn
in thread letters.
I hid at the center
behind jet buttons
too round to undo.
That coarse-nap wool
outlasted Estonian winter
but now the moths
left a trellis of holes
so it was never dark
when I curled up
hugging my knees.
My mother cried out:
Who are you? I answered
in my deepest voice:
His coat.


I shoved my hands in
and taught them to walk:
now stumble: now march
against your will, left, right.
to the Narva Front:

now dance:
and somewhere
in that immense city
where snow trembled
in high lit windows,
a footstep receded,
rapid, urgent,
indelible as a name.

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