Archival Features, Features

James Tate: “Leaving Mother Waiting for Father”


Leaving Mother Waiting for Father

The evening went on;
I got very old.
She kept telling me it didn’t matter.
The real man would come back
soon. We waited. We had alarms
fixed, vases of white and purple
flowers ready to thrust
on him should he.

We had to sell the place
in a hurry; walked downtown
holding hands.
She had a yard of blue material in her pocket:
I remember that so well!
She fell asleep and a smile
began to blister her old mouth.
I propped her against an old hotel
and left without any noise.

James Tate (1943-2015) was the author of more than twenty collections of poetry, including the Pulitzer-Prize winning Selected Poems. His Dome of the Hidden Pavilion will be published in August 2015 by Ecco Press.

“Leaving Mother Waiting for Father” was published in the Summer 1968 issue of Poetry Northwest, and appeared in The Oblivion Ha-Ha.

photo credit: Peace Lily BW | (license)