Spring 2003 • Vol. XXV No. 2 Poetry |

Preparatory Science Fair

There are the fathers lithe as young cheetahs, who fashioned their bodies with cardio and no carbs, whose shoes once were reptiles. They differ in fiber from this nearly dead father, who survived the transplant, but now feels his huge borrowed heart giving out. His chest wears a frayed lightning bolt beneath celery-green shirt. He must fight puffing to kneel at his son's aquarium, where the dumb angelfish silently bubble and dart, flicker with sequin-finned ease. When he grips the table to rise, sweat drops on the pine finish. The man starving for breath, alert, gulps down each atom of it. The mom twists on a smile. The boy slashes his net like a saber against some rich man's blue-ribboned son till the wounded father draws him close, and the held boy grins in that smothering hug.

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Mary Karr’s books of poems include Viper Run (Penguin, 2000) and The Devil’s Tour (New Directions, 1993). In 2001 she published the introduction to the Modern Library’s editon of The Waste Land. She is the Jesse Truesdell Peck Professor of Literature at Syracuse University.

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This Lesson You’ve Got

By Mary Karr

There are the fathers lithe as young cheetahs, who fashioned their bodies with cardio and no carbs, whose shoes once were reptiles. They differ in fiber from this nearly dead […]

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