Tuesday, November 26, 2013

26 November 2013

from Ellen Bryant Voigt's Headwaters:


not unlike otters which we love frolicking
floating on their backs like truant boys unwrapping lunch
same sleek brown pelt some overtones of gray and rust
though groundhogs have no swimming hole and lunch
is rooted in the ground between short legs small feet
like a fat man's odd diminutive loafers not

frolicking but scurrying layers of fat his coat
gleams as though wet shines chestnut sable darker
head and muzzle lower into the grass a dark
triangular face like the hog-nosed skunk another delicate
nose and not a snout doesn't it matter what they're called I like swine

which are smart and prefer to be clean using their snouts
to push their excrement to the side of the pen
but they have hairy skin not fur his fur
shimmers and ripples he never uproots the mother plant his teeth
I think are blunt squared off like a sheep's if cornered does he
cower like sheep or bite like a sow with a litter is he ever

attacked he looks to me inedible he shares his acreage
with moles voles ravenous crows someone thought up
the names his other name is botched Algonquin but yes
he burrows beneath the barn where a farmer once

dried cordwood he scuttles there at speech cough laugh
at lawnmower swollen brook high wind he lifts his head
as Gandhi did small tilt to the side or stands erect
like a prairie dog or a circus dog but dogs don't waddle like Mao
with a tiny tail he seems asexual like Gandhi like Jesus if Jesus
came back would he be vegetarian also pinko freako homo

in Vermont natives scornful of greyhounds from the city
self-appoint themselves woodchucks unkempt hairy macho
who would shoot on sight an actual fatso shy mild marmot radiant
as the hog-nosed skunk in the squirrel trap both cleaner than sheep
fur fluffy like a girl's maybe he is a she it matters
what we're called words shape the thought don't say
rodent and ruin everything


before it's too late I need to study the great religions time
is speeding up in the bad movie of my life months fly off
the calendar or the camera stays fixed on one tree
in leaf no leaves in leaf sunrise sunset
as the great Yiddish musical says

and then the chuppah the goblet smashed delirious dancers
parading the newlyweds in chairs like royalty but why
give up those beasts whose hooves leave valentines
for us in the muddy sty and why so much anxiety
regarding women ditto Mary's
beatific smile but I like distinctive hats on those in charge
and I know I need a little intercession spilt salt
flung over the shoulder a daily lineup facing east
though some of us have to pray in our personal tents
like snails
                      a wedding in a garden
suits me fine the flowers left unsacrificed
it's Adam and Eve except that Adam had no mother
no one who worried about that missing rib now incarnate
wearing white like a young birch beside my boy who's grown
bewitched looking nowhere but at her I know that look

a Druid with his chosen tree he might as well
be on his knees he needs an altar something old something 
once revered perhaps I could volunteer bring on the saw the guests
can bow their heads and count the rings the years

more poems from this book:


My Mother



Hog-Nosed Skunk

Lost Boy



Spring & Sleep


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