A Son with a Future

by Charles Reznikoff

Charles Reznikoff

When he was four years old, he stood at the window during a
thunderstorm. His father, a tailor, sat on the table sewing.
He came up to his father and said, “I know what makes
thunder: two clouds knock together.”
When he was older, he recited well-known rants at parties.
They all said that he would be a lawyer.
At law school he won a prize for an essay. Afterwards, he
became the chum of an only son of rich people. They
were said to think the world of the young lawyer.
The Appellate Division considered the matter of his disbarment.
His relatives heard rumours of embezzlement.

When a boy, to keep himself at school, he had worked in a
drug store.
Now he turned to this half-forgotten work, among perfumes
and pungent drugs, quiet after the hubble-bubble of the
courts and the search in law books.
He had just enough money to buy a drug store in a side
Influenza broke out. The old tailor was still keeping his shop
and sitting cross-legged on the table sewing, but he was
He, too, was taken sick. As he lay in bed he thought, “What a
lot of money doctors and druggists must be making; now
is my son’s chance.”
They did not tell him that his son was dead of influenza.

Poems 1918-1975: The Complete Poems of Charles Reznikoff

Last updated June 30, 2015