“Prompt,” a Poem by Rebecca Foust

From the Collection Only

April 14, 2023  By Rebecca Foust

Write only what you absolutely do not know, not what you’re merely not sure of.

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–Stephen Dunn


Null. All. What’s after death or before.
Where my old dog is now, my mother,
my father—not the ashes clumped
in a box, but the mad licking
and tail-beating and the gaze,
dense with devotion, of iris-less eyes.
My father’s delight in anything
wingless or red, why my mother left
that night, barefoot and worried
she’d miss it, the first landfall migration
of geese in raft after dark raft aloft
in a gray sky, an acre of feather and beak
that boiled and blotted the dark lake,
and no sound but the high cry.


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Excerpted from Only: Poems by Rebecca Foust. Copyright © 2022. Available from Four Way Books.

Rebecca Foust
Rebecca Foust
Rebecca Foust is the author of Paradise Drive (Press 53, 2015), winner of the Press 53 Award for Poetry and the Poetry Society of Virginia Book Award; All That Gorgeous Pitiless Song (Many Mountains Moving, 2010), winner of the Many Mountains Moving Book Prize; and God, Seed: Poetry & Art about the Natural World (Tebot Bach, 2010), a collaboration with artist Lorna Stevens that won the Foreword Book of the Year Award for Poetry. Her chapbooks are The Unexploded Ordnance Bin (Swan Scythe Press, 2020) winner of the Swan Scythe Chapbook Award, and Mom’s Canoe (Texas Review Press 2009) and Dark Card (Texas Review Press 2008), winners of the Robert Phillips Poetry Prize in consecutive years. Foust’s poems appear widely, in The Hudson Review, Narrative, Ploughshares, POETRY, The Southern Review, and elsewhere. Recognitions include the 2020 Pablo Neruda Prize for Poetry judged by Kaveh Akbar, the C.P. Cavafy and James Hearst Poetry Prizes, a 2017-19 Marin County Poet Laureateship, and fellowships from The Frost Place, Hedgebrook, MacDowell, and Sewanee Writers’ Conference.

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