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  • Dr.Pragya Suman

Poem of the Week

An American Poet Gerald Stern (2025-2022) died on 27 October 2022, He was to complete a century, unfortunately, it didn’t happen. His poems have a special kind of melancholic narrato-lyrical approach and the subject spectrum is wide and varied. Stern wrote about his immigrant parents, lovers, friends, and the division between rich and poor, Jews and non-Jews. Stern was himself Jews and had a hybrid heritage. His father was from Ukraine and his mother was Polish. Stern was a late bloomer who published his first poetry collection in the fifties. He served in armies during world war 2 for a brief period and also indulged in political activism. Stern organized an anti-apartheid reading at the University of Iowa. Stern described himself as “ part comedic, part idealistic, colored in Irony, smeared with mockery and sarcasm.”

Stern’s sister Sylvia died at eight years of age, which became the everlasting pain of the Poet.

My Sister’s Funeral

By Gerald Stern

Since there was no mother for the peach tree we did it

all alone, which made the two of us closer

though closeness brought its loneliness, and it would

have been better I think sometimes to be sterile

from the start just to avoid the pain

which in my life this far has lasted seventy

years for I am in love with a skeleton

on whose small bones a dress hung for a while,

on whose small skull a bit of curly hair

was strung, and what is dust I still don’t know

since there was no mother to turn to then and ask

what else was she wearing, did she have on shoes,

and were the two trees from Georgia, and was it

true somebody said the other peach

should have died instead of her; and I could

imagine the nose going first though forty years later

the trees were still there and not as big as you’d think;

and it was my cousin Red with the flabby lips

who said it, he had red eyes, a red monstrosity,

a flabby body, half the house was filled with

male cousins, they were born in rooms a

short distance from the rats, I can’t remember

which ones had the accents nor what his

Hebrew name was, nor his English.

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