Poet's Choice

By Robert Pinsky
Sunday, April 15, 2007

An epic, in Ezra Pound's memorable definition is "a poem containing history." But lyric poetry also contains history, on a domestic scale. Rafael Campo's new book, The Enemy, along with poems responding to the 9/11 attacks and the war in Iraq, contains "A Simple Cuban Meal," about the way a family dinner includes people who are no longer present in body:

We gather at the table, even those

who left us long ago. We eat roast pork,

black beans and rice, and tell the story of

the avocado tree that had to be

cut down, that took so many years to bear --

but once it did, how generous it was!

I see Abuela halving one, sharp knife

through soft green flesh; she'd gather them beneath

a shade so dense I thought it permanent.

A freak windstorm felled it. It listed like

a sinking ship a week or two before

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