blackbirdonline journalSpring 2010  Vol. 9  No. 1
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6 Standish Court

From loam he came, from white grub,
from toad and gutter and rock,
            my idea of a curse,
the hose unkinked and its hiss

spraying over us, sprinkler
to which we’re pushed after the tasting. 
            Then in sun we sleep,
flushed, on towels or mown grass,

beneath crab–apple limbs
until the insects forget us,
            though we hear them singing still,
a divided swarm, legs squirming

in the shade of the picnic table
where he ashes a bleached shell.
            Their song now a voice,
now an arrow, stung cheeks,

his mouth declaring he’ll free us
(his third lie) from our yolk,
            and how well I remember
him wiping his knife

on a pant leg and his face
squared down on us, not looking
            with but through his eyes,
then his knife severing our stems. 

See how with pride he moves
among squash vines,
            how he has the strength
of their fingers around chicken wire,

stunted vegetables he passes over
since we’re tasteless to all but pigs.
            And it’s true that some of us
were lucky to age, that I was cut

with a small hole and entered,
dried until my seeds rattled inside,
            I who made the mistake
of believing in the blossom,

though for a long time I lived
inside a skin of skins, near
            mushrooms piggybacking roots.
Because it’s my role to love

what’s past and defiled,
to linger on the sound of a child
            crying in a basement
(a cricket trapped in a jar),

then to lurk with my own fork
until I can speak again,
            I tell you I slept through
the worst heat, and also confess

I needed his rough thumbs inside,
as there was one law
            for the lion and another for the ram,
and now I can speak finally

beyond the sun that burned
the crab–apple’s groin, and,
            though I know no life bears
repeating, I want to climb his tree

in that midsummer sun,
my towel drying on the grass,   
            his face below me just a glint
or a question or an old man laughing.  end

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