Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Guest Poem By Patrick Bizzaro

I'm delighted to post a "guest poem" by a colleague and friend from East Carolina University, Patrick Bizzaro. Patrick is also the author of a fine book on teaching creative writing, Responding to Poems, published by the National Council of Teachers of English, and he's also written criticism on the work of poet Fred Chappell. Here is the poem:

FIRST PHOTOGRAPH
for Antonio

The frame
that held my photograph
of you being born
kept changing shape.
It pushed in on you
from all directions,
clamped down
until I could tell,
when your head shrunk
into a wrinkled photo
of a baby’s birth,
you began to wrestle back.

Less moving
picture than a series of stills
presenting themselves to me now,
weeks later,
in no particular order,
the frame stretched
to fit your head
as though the photo of you being born
changed to fit its frame.

But there was a moment,
when seeing your head
deep inside the frame
of your mother’s precious parts,
foolishly noting aloud
your head’s simple size,
I thought this photo,
any photo of any birth,
impossible to frame.
So I concentrated instead
on my part in this,
circling with both hands
the all-important left leg
I’d been assigned to hold. Fortunately,

there were people in the room
determined to see this event
develop. Looking up, I watched
one possible photo after another
snap by—any one of which I might freeze here
into words—and, quite frankly, for the first time
that day or night or whenever it was
a plot entered the room, a storyline,
a sequence of tangible events
moving toward some ultimate resolution.

And though distracted by
the breaths of someone
in the distance, I noticed
all the possible first photos of you
as they changed shape
to fit this frame of your mother.
Your shape,
your mother’s shape,
became something mutual,
some unspoken agreement.
The knot on your head nodded
to everyone in the room
you would do your part.
It tightened until
it was no longer a photo of you, Antonio,
but instead a video
of a proud if undersized Sumo
entering the delivery room.
Standing beside your mother’s
left leg, I looked down for the first time
into your face and saw
you, my son,
entering the room,
the knot at the top of your head gone,
your skull in the frame
taking a shape
I recognized as skull,
your shoulders, slanting
to form a small arrow,
pointing at some target
only you could see
between your mother’s knees.

Patrick Bizzaro

Copyright 2008 Patrick Bizzaro
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