Spring 2010 • Vol. XXXII No. 2 PoetryApril 1, 2010 |

Family Math

I am more than half the age of my father, who has lived more than twice as long as his father, who died at thirty-six. Once a year for four days I am two years older than my wife, until her birthday. In practical terms I am three times older than the Internet, twelve times the age of my obsolescent computer, eight times older than the new century and not yet a half century old. Impractically, here I count the nothings, add them up to less than what I hope. I have taught for more than half my life. Most afternoons of teaching follow unfinished mornings. Yesterday I held a book seven times older than I am. Twenty-eight hours and a few minutes later, I recall the smell, a leathery, mildewed tang. Sixteen and one-half years ago, my son was born, which took twelve hours. His delivery came two weeks late. The smell in the delivery room seemed primordial, iron in the blood, and shit, and another kind of smell--- more abstract, if that's possible. Twenty-

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Alan Michael Parker's most recent book is The Ladder, his eighth collection of poems; a coedited volume, The Manifesto Project, appeared in January 2017, and his fourth novel, Christmas In July, will be published in 2018. Douglas C. Houchens Professor of English at Davidson College, he also teaches in the University of Tampa low-residency MFA program. His honors include three Pushcart Prizes, two inclusions in Best American Poetry, the Fineline Prize, the Medwick Award, and the North Carolina Book Award.

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