I read my daughter’s old Freud,
her college book, an introduction
to parapraxes, how we avoid
significance in small disruptions.
I read her margin notes,
quick summaries and explanations
of his points. What’s lost
is her. I want to hear her
make some crack to roast
the guy. I turn the page. Nearer:
she’s written Dad by forgetting names,
and something made her jot down Flubber.
I also look for hints of blame,
some scribbled clue about intent,
the words that might help me to frame
the subsequent event.
Then this: if worried about a slip—
tend to—does that make it real?—or accident?
A friend said she stopped at the top.
We’ll never know why she paused—
To catch the sun? Check out the slope?
Likely a patch of ice caused—
No way to know or to avoid—
She used to “why” and I “becaused,”
but now all answers are destroyed.
This poem originally appeared in Rattle. You can hear the author read the poem here.
Katherine Barrett Swett‘s collection Voice Message was selected by Erica Dawson for the 2019 Donald Justice Poetry Prize. It is forthcoming from Autumn House Press in 2020. A high school English teacher, Swett lives in New York City. She received a PhD in American Literature from Columbia University. Her poems have been published or are forthcoming in various journalsincluding,The Lyric, Rattle, Mezzo Cammin, The Raintown Review and The Orchards. Sonnets by her were finalists for the Nemerov Contest in 2016 and 2017. Her chapbook, Twenty-one was published by Finishing Line Press in 2016.