My Father’s Tie Rack

Back of the door to his dark closet,
eye height, with clever steel
pegs I could flip both ways.
A row of pendulums. Of tongues.
Words, wordless. Witnesses
waiting to be sworn. The town secret.
A silk body, a man's plenty.
A wild ache, a knot. One painted
with gold mums, one with blood
leaves on mud. Vishnu's skin, twenty
shades of sky. White flag iris.
Slick sheen of a greenblack snake.
Which one went with him into the hole?
Somewhere else: his belts.


Copyright © 2016 by Joan Larkin. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on December 23, 2016, by the Academy of American Poets.

About this Poem

“My father dressed in conformity with his conservative views. The neckties I loved to gaze at were a kind of hidden wealth, like the dazzling color plates in The Arabian Nights, a book he’d given me. He was generous and repressive, sensuous and puritanical, encouraging and frightening. Time has deepened my sense of his complexity—whatever I think I know of others, much remains a mystery.”
—Joan Larkin