FALL 2010

Molly Peacock


From Alphabetique: The Lives of the Letters

From inside the doorway of the wrecked house
Y looked out into the sun and saw                                
his long-dead grandfather as a young man, wincing.
On waking, Y leapt in hope when he thought perhaps
the dreamlight had been so strong that
Grandfather hadn’t seen him after all.

Y was the grandson whose foot had slipped through the roof,
nails and hammer flying, his single leg through the rot
up to the groin.  It took sheer adrenalin
to lift his torso up through the shingles
and climb onto a safe beam to look down at Father,
so disappointed in him. Father had fixed that roof
when Grandfather was too old to climb, and now
when Father was too old, young Y was supposed to.

But Y left the hole in the roof ,
and traveled to his home in a faraway city and his job.
The next night he dreamed about Grandfather again:
Pop pushed his cap back, squinted, and yes,
he saw Y standing there in the wreckage.

That roof never was fixed.  Raccoons got in.
With the paw prints still on the walls and beds,
Y’s father sold the house to the neighbors,
who tore it down.  In a fluke of timing,
 Y drove past the house, saw the demolition,
and took photos--almost as if in a dream. 
Then he visited with his father and sped home
to his partner and his job and their own house.

The next night Y looked out
of the demolished house just as his grandfather’s 
young face crumpled like fabric in a fist
at the vision of  what he built with his own two hands
destroyed because a. . . a
. . . citified boy who was too clumsy
to patch the roof he patched and his son patched
had run away.  Grandfather stared
into the single standing lintel as if the house
weren't there.  This dream was before he built the place.
He was gazing at an orchard, wondering
if he could scrape up the cash to buy it,
the perfect place to build a house for his wife
and little boy, Y’s father. 

“Are you still having dreams about this?”
Y’s incredulous partner asks over breakfast,
placing yolk-perfect eggs before him with his slender hands,
black hairs curling enticingly over the knuckles,
“That you’re solely responsible?”
“Oh yes,” Y sighs, “because
if  it's somebody’s fault,
there’s a reason for being.”
                                    This poem originally appeared in PN Review, UK


MOLLY PEACOCK Molly Peacock is the author of six volumes of poetry, including The Second Blush and Cornucopia: New & Selected Poems.  Her poems have appeared in leading literary journals, as well as in numerous anthologies, including The Best of the Best American Poetry and The Oxford Book of American Poetry. She is the Series Editor for The Best Canadian Poetry in English and serves on the Graduate Faculty of the Spalding University Brief Residency MFA Program in Creative Writing. Her latest work of nonfiction is The Paper Garden: Mrs. Delany Begins Her Life’s Work at 72.



Poetrybay seeks fine poetry, reviews, commentary and essays without restriction in form or content, and reserves first electronic copyright to all work published. All rights to published work revert to the author following publication. All Email submissions should be in body of email text.

To submit poems write to:

PO Box 114 
Northport NY 11768
or email us at 

send comments to info@poetrybay.com

first electronic copyright 2004 poetrybay. 
all rights revert to authors

website comments to dpb@islandguide.com