David Roderick

Self-Portrait in 1970

Limbed Pisces, dawn of the Ram,
when my mother’s hips
push me into lamplight and time.
This is where one voice ends
and another begins,
with a child bearing another child,
some low line
of election continuing,
a rabbit’s foot stroked in a pocket.
Little cricket, little salt-boy
straddling two seasons,
making noise in a world
that already speaks so clearly of itself,
my pulse residual,
silence in my mother’s spine.
The sky above the hospital
holds tight to its astrology,
the bowl of a womb scraped out.
Below, standing in the road,
my father doesn’t know I’m born,
his horned son, a lungfish wriggling
into the language species.
It’s a gripper of a night,
so cold his dental fillings ache.
Why won’t he walk and warm himself?
Sober frostbite. Felon wind.
The road heading off in two directions.

David Roderick
Self-Portrait in 1970 is reprinted from Blue Colonial (The American Poetry Review/Copper Canyon Press, 2006).