A Walk with Jefferson by Philip Levine

By Philip Levine

The foundation for the identify poem of Philip Levine's A stroll with Tom Jefferson is now not the founding father and 3rd president of the us that almost all readers may think upon listening to the identify. Levine's Tom Jefferson is kind of assorted from his namesake: he's an African American dwelling in a destitute sector of commercial Detroit. yet to Levine, he's "wise, compassionate, planned, honest...a nice unknown American." In A stroll with Tom Jefferson, Philip Levine reminds us why he's top identified for his poems approximately working-class lifestyles in Detroit--and why such a lot of humans count number a Levine poem between their favorites.

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Sample text

Though the past is like a stone thrown into the lake, there but irretrievable, still, years later, stumbling in the gallery of pictures upon Souvenir de Mortefontaine, painted when we were children there, I got a chill up my spine as if, on the other side of the lake from where the boat drifts, we’re still tying flies or gutting the trout we caught. And standing there, a velvet rope delineating the distance between where I was and where I had been, I felt like the fish that went for the fake, its innards, its still-beating heart, tossed into the trees where the birds waited to feed.

I resolved then and there to leave the signs he would seek, looking for a way home: a red ribbon tied to a twig might catch his eye from a distance, and would be like the voice that calls out at dusk, Over here! 40 3. Sudden rain: there was nowhere to go but into the library, where the shelves bowed with the weight of old books. I pulled one down—a story in which the mother fails to come to the gate. The rhetoric was simple and struck me as dull, like vegetables grown in an overwatered garden. Whether the story mentioned her thwarted love didn’t matter: by tuberculosis or arsenic, the end was the same.

I follow the couple to where they glimpsed her; halfway through the tunnel I see her cowering, though I don’t think she sees me. I feign exhaustion, take my foot in my hand, drop something for her to eat, she’s so thin. She takes it, takes a long time to eat it—it’s a Jolly Rancher, a watermelon one. It’s a wedding but the children are dying; I’m trying to help but I haven’t a clue, I can’t keep them merry, can’t keep them from leaping. But this girl eats my candy; she’s scared but not of me. 21 WEST 12TH STREET He’s belly-down in the nest you’ve made on the floor in the add-on that was my room when I was small; the door is open so you can keep an eye on him.

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