Published on Academy of American Poets (https://poets.org)


The Portrait

My mother never forgave my father
for killing himself,
especially at such an awkward time
and in a public park,
that spring
when I was waiting to be born.
She locked his name
in her deepest cabinet
and would not let him out,
though I could hear him thumping.
When I came down from the attic
with the pastel portrait in my hand
of a long-lipped stranger
with a brave moustache
and deep brown level eyes,
she ripped it into shreds
without a single word
and slapped me hard.
In my sixty-fourth year
I can feel my cheek 
still burning.

Credit


Author


Stanley Kunitz

Born on July 29, 1905, Stanley Kunitz was the author of many poetry collections, as well as the winner of the Pulitzer Prize for Selected Poems, 1928-1958

Date Published: 1991-12-12

Source URL: https://poets.org/poem/portrait