Books by James Crews
About James Crews
James Crews’ work has appeared in Ploughshares, Raleigh Review, Crab Orchard Review and The New Republic, as well as on Ted Kooser’s American Life in Poetry newspaper column, and he is a regular contributor to The London Times Literary Supplement. He holds an MFA in Creative Writing from the University of Wisconsin-Madison and a PhD in Writing & Literature from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. The author of two collections of poetry, The Book of What Stays (Prairie Schooner Prize and Foreword Book of the Year Citation, 2011) and Telling My Father (Cowles Prize, 2017), Crews is also co-editor of several anthologies of poetry, including Healing the Divide: Poems of Kinship and Connection. He leads Mindfulness & Writing workshops and retreats throughout the country and works as a writing coach with groups and individuals. He lives with his husband, Brad Peacock, in Shaftsbury, Vermont.
My Father Asks for One Last Thing
Bending over rows of four o’ clocks
now wet with evening, he picks off
dead blooms, tipping their seeds
into an envelope for next year,
though he knows he won’t be here.
Through the screen door, I smell
cut grass, wild onion, gasoline.
Under his T-shirt stained green,
his skin’s already begun to yellow
like a window shade finally ruined
by too much smoke and sun.
Gloaming is not the word for how
night shows up, draping the city sky
whose trapped sulfur and junk-light
fight off true dark. He looks up
from cleaning the mower blades,
knows I’m checking on him again.
I open the pantry, pretend to be
absorbed by the jars of tomatoes
he canned last summer, heirlooms
floating soft in the murk of time.
And when he calls my name, asking
for a massage, having asked too much
of his body today, his face is blank
and gray like the sky before rain.