Knopf Poem-a-Day: April 25, Franz Wright’s “Goodbye”


Franz Wright’s recent Kindertotenwald is a dark wood the poet journeys through in illuminating short narratives like the one below.


Each day I woke as it started to get dark and the pain came. Month
after month of this—who knows when I got well, the way you do,
whether you like it or not. With dawn now, risen from the rampage
of sleep, I am walking in the Lincoln woods. A single bird is
loudly singing. And I walk here as I always have, as though from
tall room to room in a more or less infinite house where the owner’s
not home but is watching me somehow, observing my behavior,
from behind the two-way mirror of appearances, I suppose,
and listening, somewhat critically, to what I am thinking. Not too,
however. At certain moments I could swear there is even a sense of
being liked, as sunlight changes swiftly, leaving, leaving and arriving
again. A bird is chirping bitterly, as if these words were meant
for me, as if their intent was within me, and will not speak. Nothing
is left me of you.

Learn more about Franz Wright’s Kindertotenwald and browse other titles by Franz Wright.

Excerpt from KINDERTOTENWALD © 2011 by Franz Wright. Excerpted by permission of Alfred A. Knopf, a division of Random House, Inc., New York. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.

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