|Oct/Nov 2009 Poetry|
What We Want
The pigs are up early this morning
hording toward some invisible enemy or friend,
or to the troughs that are filled this time each day
as day breaks open like a ripe husk of damp seed,
and the pigs are greedy, but this greed is their
kind, the movement of their selves through
all time, the name they are known by,
the thing they do that distinguishes
And from across the field at the house,
I want juice with my morning tea, I want quiet
ripening like the moon in its seed pod, I want
the other world than the one I have created,
the world that waits perpetually until my death,
I want more than I have before me at this moment,
want to be heard and felt, the words to flow
like milk from the teats of the pigs
into their waiting young.
The Landscape of This Poem
The trick is simply to suck you in through your senses,
here to the coastal town in Provence where the houses
are all pastel, and so much alike, whitewashed
and orange now, captured in the failing light,
that we cannot know the difference. One the painter
might hope to make clear. The memory helps;
that sense you may be harboring of Cezanne.
Yes, of course, The Bay from L'Estaque,
now we are getting there. But the real demands
more than memory wants, desires an actual presence
of the flesh, or not? The rue and lavender aromas
cut the air; the strong, almost fusty smell of rue, the lavender
offsetting it, mulling us. We are virtually there now.
Those famous yellows, his passage to gold. Myriad
surfaces held up and out against the turquoise sea.
Or is it green? The water makes the deepest of impressions.
What moment seems pure that cannot be remembered?
As if the painter had not borrowed but created that natural hue,
that deep, clear density of immeasurable blue. His chimneys
are dark vertical stokes on sun-sprayed mustard roofs.
At this height, you can't see anything really, nothing
but the village walls and gabled ends of houses, each merging
out of another, no one stands alone, the town itself
evolves into a single image, not distinct, not historical,
but a plane of shifting semblances. Of course you know I've
never been there. This is the poem's scheme,
to remember other places, Dubrovnik off the Adriatic,
a Colombian village outside Medellín, houses on a high hill
above other towns, last light in something of his same
intensity, the insistence of color off flat, clay walls.
The trick at last is to extricate ourselves from this synesthetic
confusion. Is this Provençal? Colombia? Croatian?
Where in the world has this poem gone?
And the painter? What has happened to Cezanne?
That, then, is the landscape of the poem, its prodigious space,
the mind's late afternoon always coming up just short of spices
wafting through dirt street atmospheres. What does not last
lasts the longest, for the sun sets on everything else, even
the language, slowly deepening the very houses we use,
and the sea, the final infusion of mind and matter, the extremes
of blue against the salty taste of sun on scattered rooftops,
crashes on the edge of now, rushing up to the poem's shore.
The unspoken rule of the land had always been
one pig for every three cork trees. —Alentejo Farmer
The acorn is all rich fatty meat
that the pigs devour in their hunger,
growing into obese gross beasts
ready to eat more.
This the source of their divinity,
that they grow immense in the heat
of the cork oak orchards of the lean
and feeding on the trees, bless
the product of the land, the thousand
year old olive, the rejuvenated cork,
the pigs the sources of cycles,
to feed and sleep, beasts, no more.
But the farmers gather them now in herds,
ravaging the rolling hills, dislodging
all other life in their godlike hunger.