How Fortunate the Boy by Alicia Ostriker


How fortunate the boy
            holding his father’s hand
                        crossing the street

coming home from a movie
            they let him stay
                        up late to see

in the night and the rain
            the taxi making a left
                        pulling him under its wheels

injuring the father
            instantly almost painlessly
                        killing the boy so that he will never

suffer the disappointment
            of being a man
                        lucky boy

child of our neighborhood vigil
            mourned by candlelight
                        and news cameras

hero of our petition to the mayor
            about this bad intersection
                        but the father is unfortunate

whose screams my neighbor says
            curdled her blood
                        and the taxidriver is unfortunate

who will never again
            embrace his own son
                        with a mind of shining dawn



Major American poet and critic Alicia Ostriker has been twice nominated for a National Book Award, and is the author of fourteen volumes of poetry, including The Book of Seventy (2009), which won the Jewish Book Award for Poetry, and The Old Woman, the Tulip and the Dog, published in 2014. Ostriker’s poems have appeared in The New Yorker, The Paris Review, Antaeus, The Nation, Poetry, American Poetry Review, Kenyon Review, The Atlantic, MS, Tikkun, and many other journals, and her work has been widely anthologized.