issue 25 > poetry > slavitt
Inventionby David Slavitt
My father's uncle, I think, or maybe an elder
cousin was an inventor, at least of a method
of asking for money tactfully. The devices
he dreamed up were worthless, except as pretexts
that saved the feelings of those he would put the bite on
and also, no doubt, his own, which were also at risk.
You can't just go to a relative (again)
and hold out your hand and beg for money for food.
Avoiding such awkwardness, he offered to sell
shares in his latest scheme or contraption.
what had to happen. One of the stupid ideas
was for a door that when it was open was closed.
My grandfather laughed and sent him away with nothing
for having abandoned the plausibility
good manners required. But what could he do,
the uncle or cousin, having at last thought up
something that really could work? The revolving door
is, when it's open, closed, and closed when it's open,
as only a poor man can understand,
having seen how God's hand works in the world
and having tried, in all his difficulties,
not to lose his patience, not to lose faith.
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