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Caroline Maun


The Old Professor by Frank Duveneck

And I realized oh yes it was a mess,
it always was. This was a love random,
ridiculous, long afternoons entwined
with music that welled up, the flooding words,
incantations for a future barely
a moment ahead of us. I will be
with him always, in this house, everything
unfinished. I see his spine curving there
as I rub something in to relieve pain,
even if it is a lie. We don’t know
what helps, the lotion or the light touch
as I hold him steady in a half hug.
Imagine the time when infirmity
will come; I put now in a crucible,
feel with all my nerves how good it is
to be in this small circle with him.

He walks behind me as I test the ice,
I walk ahead of him on the staircase.
Don’t go so fast, we both say, meaning
everything, knowing time will come
no matter what. Every night we decide
what’s for breakfast; we must know to sleep.


About the writer:
Caroline Maun is an associate professor and Chair of English at Wayne State University in Detroit, Michigan, where she teaches creative writing and American literature. Her volumes of poetry include The Sleeping (Marick Press, 2006), What Remains (Main Street Rag, 2013), and three chapbooks, Cures and Poisons and Greatest Hits, published by Pudding House Press, and Accident, published by Alice Greene & Co. She has also been published in Asheville Poetry Review, The Bear River Review, Bitterzoet Magazine, Brushfire, The Cape Rock, The Courtship of Winds, Crack the Spine, Delmarva Review, El Portal, Euphony, Evening Street Review, and Failbetter.

Image: The Old Professor by Frank Duveneck (1848-1919). Oil on canvas. 24 x 19 inches. 1871. Public domain.

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