The Paris Review

Poetry Rx: This Is the Year

In our column Poetry Rx, readers write in with a specific emotion, and our resident poets—Sarah Kay, Kaveh Akbar, and Claire Schwartz—take turns prescribing the perfect poems to match. This week, Sarah Kay is on the line.

©Ellis Rosen

Dearest Poets,

The women who raised me suffered so many missed opportunities, and I am seized with guilt about it. I construct vivid images from the stories I know. I imagine my grandmother as a married seventeen-year-old woman-child, patiently waiting for the local florist to pass by our house so she could catch a whiff of the fragrant champac flowers she had no money to buy. How long did it take for her to give up on this tiny desire, I wonder? I imagine my mother doodling soft hands offering lotus obeisance to who-knows-which-god, over and over in the margins of her book. She must have been giving away her tenderness, surely? I see my aunt posing shyly for a photo, which is now torn in half. In a year, I will defend my doctoral thesis. This should be a vindication. But it doesn’t feel that way. Is there a poem for the taste

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