Poem of the Week

Clipping

Cecily Parks

I have not seen you in over a decade
when out of a beloved novel
falls a newspaper clipping you used as a bookmark.
Creepy, my husband says, holding up an article
about an army officer who killed his wife
and severed his own tongue to escape
interrogation. Now I know you
didn’t finish the book my husband
is reading next to me in bed, now
he will always have read more of it
than you did. You were into that kind
of story, I explain to my husband, it inspired
your fictions, which you asked me to read
and edit. When the novel you never finished reading
was published, one critic wrote
that it “worships too long at the altar
of the intellect,” which no one said that year
about a novel written by a man.
My husband hands me the soft scrap.
I love how history
never riles his vindictiveness.
I used to think you didn’t like women.
It took me a long time to realize you didn’t
like me. Forgive me, history
always riles my vindictiveness, which is why
I prefer to pretend I never worshipped
at the altar of your intellect, never
met you. Eventually, even tranquilly,
I may read the book I helped you write.

Cecily Parks is working on a third book, poems from which appear in The New Yorker, A Public Space, and The Best American Poetry 2021. She teaches in the MFA Program at Texas State University and lives in Austin.
Originally published:
July 6, 2022

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