2 June 2004 | Vol. 4, No. 2

Inheriting Stock in Eskimo Pie

There is more to it than just ice cream,

          the broker said, the palms of his hands

pint-heavy and warm.

          These figures show that

in the next quarter, you should expect

          a grand return. He leans back. He smiles.

He is happy for me. He could not ask

          for much more than this. Twelve suits,

two white lines to park between, and me.

          He loves me. I am not afraid to admit it.

He wants me, what is in my pockets. What is.

          The lines of his figures dwindle

to a single equation, twirl into what is expected,

          a sculpture of fact and promise.

And why not an equation? The numbers

          keep him warm at night, beg him to read stories.

They believe in him when his wife will not,

          when the forecast calls for snow, unending snow,

the trees crowding against his house,

          zeros and ones, brown shoes and no end in sight.

I like ice cream, the way it can remain,

          then suddenly drip itself empty of what contained it.

It is the easiest thing to do: empty yourself,

          as a bear empties itself with a roar every winter

before it hollows out a place to park its boned weight.

          A single roar, then sleep. My father chose to buy

stock in Eskimo Pie. One thousand shares.

          One thousand roars. It begins with shares,

or two hunters walking through a long-leaf pine forest.

          It begins with a sack of wild plums,

and goes from there, until the black form of a bear

          becomes what it set out to become: a strong wind,

a frost-covered field. Under a narrow candle of moon,

          my father and I will eat the plums and talk

of how it used to be. It could be that easy. It could.

          With a calculator, a nub of pencil. The broker's fine silver

eyeglasses, two white lines. A freezer full

          of what I do not want. Everything, except my father,

who left me photographs of me dressed like him,

          who left me ice cream, the skin of a bear under my feet.

He left me with me, and so it has come down to this:

          the want of numbers to form ashes

into something human again, something simple,

          like the moon. White and simple, a small boy

dressed like a man. I could put him back together.

          The moon is full tonight. It will be easy to see.

I cannot leave out

          any pieces.

About the author:

Joshua Poteat's first manuscript Ornithologies won the 2004 Anhinga Poetry Prize (published in 2006) and his chapbook Meditations won the Poetry Society of America's 2004 National Chapbook Award. His second manuscript, Illustrating the Machine that Makes the World: From J.G. Heck's 1851 Pictorial Archive of Nature and Science, was accepted as a part of the newly revamped Contemporary Poets Series from the University of Georgia Press/Virginia Quarterly Review (publication date TBA). Poems from the second manuscript have won the Ruth Stone Poetry Prize from Hunger Mountain, and have been recently published in Virginia Quarterly Review, Indiana Review, Ninth Letter, American Letters & Commentary, Quarterly West, Bat City Review, Typo, Copper Nickel, Backwards City Review, Handsome, and others.'; if (strpos($_SERVER['REQUEST_URI'],'galleys')) {?>

Author's note: "Appendix:             in           Snow" and "Appendix:           the           Blind (         Specimen    )" are appendices/erasures/ruins/white-outs/bones of my poems, "Meditations in Desert Snow" and "Meditations in the Garden of the Blind (with Whitman's Specimen Days)," previously published in 42opus. Some may call it editing, others just a gimmicky way to get two poems out of one. However, this method has been popular since the 1920s-era Surrealists, perhaps even earlier. For the most part, the goal of my project is to find the ghost underneath the ghost.

For further reading:

See the complete list of work by Joshua Poteat at 42opus. Browse the contents of 42opus Vol. 4, No. 2, where "Inheriting Stock in Eskimo Pie" ran on June 2, 2004. List other work with these same labels: poetry, elegy, editors' select.

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