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THE POTATO EATERS
Sometimes, the naked taste of potato
reminds me of being poor.
The first bites are gratitude,
the rest, contented boredom.
The little kitchen still flickers
like a candle-lit room in a folktale.
Never again was my father so angry,
my mother so still as she set the table,
or I so much at home.
IN THE WOODS
Night, and a candle guttering on the table.
Three low stools. Father spoons
his mush, growling just a little now.
Mother intently watches her men.
Am I the only one who hears the cry,
sees the scared girl stumbling on
through the dark and dripping woods, hungry, cold?
But yellow hair, so not our kind.
Speech beyond us still, we growl softly,
nuzzle, and—our claws retracted—stroke.
Father scrapes the bowl. Mother, rising,
sighs me far away and lost.
As in the cartoon the vengeful fat boy
with thick glasses mixes chemicals
secretly in a test tube while
his innocent parents call him to dinner,
so I mix and mixed even before
I owned my first chemistry set,
mixed hope with disbelief, dream
with what was no dream, mixed
childish love with the loneliness
of grownups, and still I mix, now
the courage of others with my fear,
their kindnesswith my desire, their clarity
with my cloudy, brown confusion,
mix and taste, mix and taste
each new potion—this time perhaps ...
Gone is the beautiful glass city
of retort and beaker, crystal chambers
crushed under seventy-seven layers
of failure, and gone, too, the hope
of golden transmutation, but still
I mix, requiring now only
the base matter of being human,
rusty blood of a used heart,
gray mush of a warmed-over brain,
and the fat boy's autistic need—
elixir that would make everything
as it was before, simple and warm,
timeless and good, however bitter
the brew, however bitterly fatal
to the system.
|The Potato Eaters||11|
|In The Woods||12|
|The Frail Inheritance||19|
|Boys at the Edge||20|
|Home From The War||21|
|Bedtime Story for Insomnia||24|
|Outside the Window||26|
|Postcard from Hellas||29|
|Jeremiah Lamenting the Destruction of Jerusalem||31|
|In the Carpenter's Shop||38|
|The Art of Crickets||39|
|The Old Poet||40|
|Music of Rain||42|
|Last Chance Motel||46|
|Another Ghost Story||47|
|From the Mountain||51|
|Someone Just Like You||52|
|Vision in the Ice Cream Parlor||54|
|On The Way North||56|
|For the Many Things that Fall Slowly||59|
|The Fossil Record||61|
|Pursuits After Seventy||65|
|Out on the Flats||67|
|Is that the Sea?||68|
|Children of the Marsh||70|
|From One Gray Feather||76|
|Pacific Coast Time||80|
|Letter from Pliny||82|
|In the Retirement Home||83|
|In Corinth Once||86|
|From the Moon||87|
|"The Tigers of Wrath are Wiser Than the Horses of Instruction"|