Listen to David de Young read “A Flash of Insight” from “A Flash of Insight and Other Poems” – promo from the forthcoming audiobook:
Basim opens his eyes from sleep,
looks up to open sky. In another poem
this might be a dream. But in this one,
splinters of wood and concrete
where his wife had slept, a gooey
wetness on his back, his bed
collapsed in a crumpled V.
For reasons he will not know
until tomorrow, he cannot get up. Tonight,
he calls out to the daughter he covered
and tucked into bed just hours ago,
she who brought his evening clothes
when he came from work, would sit close
as he watched tv, as he hoed the garden.
He calls to his wife under stars that
twinkle, silent and cold as fire.
(Read the news story that inspired this poem here.)
I set the timer for fifteen minutes, pushed start,
then sat, waiting for Inspiration. First I tried
this, then that. Then “the other thing,” but
eight minutes later, still, I had no poem!
Then, with six minutes to spare, huzzah! I was saved!
By Form! Two stanzas! Four lines each! No rhymes!
Less than a minute left now, but nothing to fear.
I knew I would be done by the end of this line.
Saturday morning in Espoo.
Puddles in the gravel driveway
My wife has driven away in the rain
with our first daughter to
gather mushrooms in the forest.
These days, I barely recall my American routines
Five years abroad, I am practically European.
Our second daughter naps. I prepare for
my brother-in-law’s birthday party.
Voilepäkakku, coffee early on, and
later, for some, drinking in the city.
The stillness of this house in rain
is something I have come to love.
Rubber boots and coats by the door, through
which my wife and daughter will soon return.
Elvis stopped, twice; grinning sidelong
That toothy, twinkling, contagious smile,
Then continued on. “Unchained Melody.”
That night he held the world in his arms and squeezed.
“I need your love, I need your love.”
Six Tuesdays later he was still squeezing,
But on Wednesday I got up, and Elvis did not.
We should remember our mothers.
We should sing for them while we can.
(Note: This poem is a loose imitation of “The Mower” by Phillip Larkin.)
The smell of Kirk’s Hardwater Soap is how I best remember my grandfather.
There are a few other memories of him as well,
like once when he got mad after hitting his thumb with a hammer.
And him not getting mad when I spilled red paint
all over the basement workbench and floor.
Then there was his long open back gown when I visited
him in the hospital before he died of cancer when I was seven.
There is a memory too of him washing himself
in Kelly Lake, after swimming out to the sandbar,
but mostly it is the smell of that soap.
The blue bookcase sits
in your attic now, dusty,
filled with odds and ends.
Once it overflowed
with toys and books of my youth.
You built it for me,
Father, with a love
that kept my childhood treasures
safe for years, my things
stored, yet easy for
my young hands to grab. Have I,
I wonder, said thanks?