Now I am My Father,


by Maggie Smith

shadowing my children
through the house,

flipping the switch
when they leave a room.

Who needs
spendy, top-shelf light

when the sun costs us
nothing? No one

meters it streaming in.
The dog lies in a square

free of charge.
I am my father now—

conserving, conservative
regarding the light

I pay for. That’s me,
shadowing, leaving

behind me a dark wake.
That’s me, & the shadow

around me is free.


Cover image by Iamdogjunkie.

About the Author:

Maggie Smith is the author of, most recently, Good Bones (Tupelo Press, 2017) and The Well Speaks of Its Own Poison (2015). Her poems have appeared or are forthcoming in the New York Times, Ploughshares, Tin House, The Adroit Journal, The Believer, AGNI, The Best American Poetry, and elsewhere. In 2016 her poem “Good Bones” went viral internationally and was called the “Official Poem of 2016” by Public Radio International.



  • jason gabari

    Made me think of this one I wrote.

    It’s the first Sunday in December
    The overcast sky lays there
    Forewarning of the cold and
    Darkness to come

    As I drive the
    Gnarled country roads
    Of the Hudson Valley
    Car after car
    Passes carrying
    Fresh cut Christmas Trees

    The smell of pine sap from dead
    Evergreens bring life to a home
    For three weeks to a month
    The oils will drip out of these
    Arboreal ghosts covered in
    Variegated lights, antique baubles, and

    As the life force to the tree
    Gradually weakens and
    The needles drop to the floor
    To be vacuumed away
    Winter begins

    I find myself turning into
    My father
    Reminding my son that
    Soon the days will be getting
    Longer and
    Spring will be here.