F Stop

Don Kunz


Your mother is standing on the edge

Where clouds lick the cliff’s face.

You hear her scream torn from the roots,

Where blackberry lips hide their thorns.

They prick the memory of her kiss.


Your mother looks down on your world

Before she sways and rushes to enter it.

She loses her grip, light as a tendril falling.

Listen to her voice rise above the whir of wings.


Now see the birds tumbling with her like confetti.

You are her photographer and made in her image.

Beneath her shadow you meter and expose the flight,

Gathering the arc of her life in a solitary flash.


You tell yourself what this all comes down to:

That tennis is the only game where love means zero,

That you won’t be buried by this parting shot,

That you will remake her gray life into quicksilver memory

And fit that lie within your comfortable frame.





Don Kunz is Emeritus Professor of English from the University of Rhode Island, now retired to Bend, Oregon. His poems have been published in Arizona Literary Review, The Asheville Poetry Review, Borderlands, Bryant Literary Review, The Cape Rock, Confrontation Magazine, English Journal, The Iconoclast, Midwest Poetry Review, The Newport Review, Philomel, Prairie Winds, The Sierra Nevada College Review, Soundings East, South Dakota Review, Trestle Creek Review, Verve, Vietnam Generation, and Whole Notes. They have won awards from the Arizona Authors' Association, Midwest Poetry Review, Oregon State Poets Association, Philomel, and Sparrowgrass Poetry Forum.