‘Elegy for Robert Frank’ by David Roderick

RIP Robert Frank

September 19, 2019  By David Roderick

Elegy for Robert Frank

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I’ll never forget
your gas pumps rusted,
the sign rising above them
shouting SAVE,
never forget you backing down
stairways from people
who knew the hole inside
your lens was not a haven for them,
the privileged throngs.
I’m glad you kept shooting them,
shooting black and white.
You played the judge
so well, the gadfly, the thief
creeping through dim
factories and saloons—
but with a pigeon’s eye,
instinctive and famished
for the glow on the buttons
climbing the elevator girl’s chest,
which is the same light
you gathered from the arms
of the cross carried by
the preacher facing the creek
near Baton Rouge, the same light
spreading over cardboard
his people kneeled on,
the same you found
hovering like a dove’s soul
above makeshift highway
shrines in Idaho, in Chicago
on boardroom chairs. Fields
of light on trolleys, engine shafts,
bunting, and skin fury-deep.

David Roderick
David Roderick
David Roderick is the author of two books of poems, Blue Colonial and The Americans. From 2017 to 2019 he wrote a weekly poetry column for The San Francisco Chronicle. A former Wallace Stegner Fellow and Amy Lowell Scholar, Roderick lives in Berkeley, California and co-directs Left Margin LIT, a creative writing center and work space serving writers in the Bay Area.

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