Poem: [One afternoon you fixed me]

This poem reminds us that so much about grief is in the fragments of memory and detail that a loved one leaves behind. Note the double meaning in the first line of “you fixed me” and “you fixed me/lunch.” What’s left after death? The “cream of mushroom soup,” the “English muffins” and the “blanket/on the floor.” The ending of this poem acutely captures the paradox of grief — the streak of joyful memories mixed with the blade of hindsight. Selected by Victoria Chang

Credit…Illustration by R.O. Blechman

[One afternoon you fixed me]

By Mark Bibbins

One afternoon you fixed me

lunch in your tiny apartment

cream of mushroom soup

from a can

and English muffins

As you set our bowls

on a blanket

on the floor because you didn’t

own a table

you put on

a bad British accent and said

We’re having crumpets

It was raining but there was

an abundance of light

coming somehow from a source

outside we couldn’t see

From here that light feels like

what music sounds like

just before the record skips

Victoria Chang is a poet whose fifth book of poems, “Obit” (Copper Canyon Press, 2020), was named a New York Times Notable Book and a Time Must-Read. Her book of nonfiction, “Dear Memory: Letters on Writing, Silence and Grief,” was published by Milkweed Editions in 2021. She lives in Los Angeles and teaches in Antioch University’s M.F.A. program. Mark Bibbins is an American poet whose latest collection is “13th Balloon” (Copper Canyon Press, 2020), from which this poem is taken.