Franz Wright’s most recent collection, Kindertotenwald, is book of prose poems that serve to remind us how tragic is the loss of childhood, not just when we first lose it but throughout our lives. Wright, now in his late fifties, has remained alert to the hauntings of youth, as well as to surreal visitations like that of the seagull in the corn below.
Seagull in the corn, postage stamp-size cornfield in the woods,
in the middle of the state, and how you ever got here. Weather
of heaven, July Massachusetts, the blue sky one endless goodbye.
Give me a minute, maggot-swarming preview of the future, give
me a moment. You can hone a blade until there is no blade, or
dwell with magnifying glass so long on a word that finally it darkens,
is not, and fire in widening circles consumes the world. For a moment
only, stay with me, mystery. Before you change completely into
something other, slow cloud, entrance, spell, not yet remembered
name, stay; tell me what you mean. A dead bird is not a dead bird
I was once told by someone who knows.
Excerpt from KINDERTOTENWALD © 2011 by Franz Wright. Excerpted by permission of Alfred A. Knopf, a division of Random House, Inc. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.