Black Lab by David Young

The following is a poem from Black Lab by David Young, published by Alfred A. Knopf in February.


January 3, 2003

My father's breathing chugs and puffs and catches,
a slow train slowing further, rattling in
to its last stop, a locked and shuttered station.

Ninety-nine years this pair of lungs, this heart,
have done their work without complaint.
Time now to let them stop and draw their wages.

The years slide down a chute and disappear;
as memories dissolve and vaporize,
the body simplifies to mottled matter,

and if the myths have got it right for once,
he turns to find a welcome somewhere else,
to touch my mother's face and make her smile.

—"January 3, 2003." Reprinted from Black Lab by David Young (Knopf, 2006). Copyright 2006 by David Young.