Part of Gregory Pardlo’s (CRF 2018) poem “Giornata” was featured on poem-a-day yesterday, December 15th, 2022. Hear Pardlo read and reflect on the poem here.
My father Bacchus wanted a daughter instead of me.
He felt the threat a son implies, and took you, my infant
virility, scarf-skin like a halo, angel of my innocence
fore-fledged. Before the ritual, there was guilt. You were
vestigial as the divot where the angel pinched my lips
in binding silence. Would I see myself in style or fit
if I encountered you, my soul, draped like a lost mitten
on a fencepost? Tattered as a moth-eaten turtleneck.
Hood like the hood of a headsman.
If you were re- appended, would you lisp like chiffon
or crunch like corduroy? You are the macho my father’s
dream foretold—he who, in the end, was like a son to me,
whose own member circumscribed a foreshortened life
story mine was intended to resemble. My forebear, the brutal
gardener. He who conjured the corona must have foreseen
his own eclipse, and standing on ceremony, found at hand
a means to get my sex to bleed.
Copyright © 2022 by Gregory Pardlo. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on December 15, 2022, by the Academy of American Poets.