David Rigsbee


by David Rigsbee

Reading the autobiography of her
ex-husband, my now-distant friend choked
with sarcasm at the omission of herself
and the children, seeing that as conclusive
evidence of a man, not self-promoting,
but self-erased. During the dinner
at which he had proposed more than
seventy years ago, he kept a cheat sheet
of talking points underneath his napkin
in case the conversation lagged. Thus no
one was surprised when, at his death,
he had left nothing of his estate
to his forbearing survivors, but divided
the dragon’s hoard between the library
and parks, and his late-life, buxom
caretaker spouse. It was pure Groucho
in the obviousness of it, but disbelief,
like belief, boils the frog slowly. At the end,
his sixty-year-old children still craved
love’s table crumbs, but he who had made
of himself the exception was scarcely
inconvenienced by his own demise.
Surrounded by the attentions of children
still starving for a nod or a touch, he
waved them away to stare at the sea
where he experienced a warm, valedictory fog,
his body released in its brittle turn, showing,
how even at the brink, one could be both
immersed in the wretched longings of others
and blessedly devoid of empathy too.


David RigsbeeDavid Rigsbee is the author of 19 books and chapbooks, including his new book, School of the Americas, just out from Black Lawrence Press.  His work has appeared in APRGeorgia ReviewThe New YorkerPoetrySouthern Review, and many others. He is a Pushcart Prize winner for 2012, and earned an NEA Fellowship for Poetry for 2013.

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