Thursday, August 23, 2007
What A Time I Had!
How did that story go?
As a rule I wouldn't have remembered so quickly.
No normal boy could grow in that soil,
the soil that was my family.
A lone sycamore stood in front of our house,
A metaphor for my developing self.
My childless aunt was a walnut tree that bloomed and bore no fruit,
as if some essential life-giving element
were lacking in the soil of her womb.
Hard times for a small boy.
A balding patch of lawn.
A great tranquility.
A great unease.
On our neighbor's lawn, the hedge went wild
and there was a pigeon, of course
(today we'd call it a nuisance)--
if he were still alive
he'd be forty-five years old.
In my forlorn family they were hunting down
A victim in the thicket.
Summer's swelter blazing as usual.
Evening mowing down shadows, merciless.
They sang me the Songs of Chastisement
between one spanking and the next.
I wouldn't lay my head down
before the first light of day,
the first bird call.
Mornings began with the huckster selling fruit in the back alley:
"Bananas, oranges, pears, lemons, cantaloupes.
Get your bananas here."
I myself died three or four times
in the course of those years.
Not an absolute and lasting death
but a kind of death agony.
A great yearning took hold of me in the lap of night,
The years have a way of bringing about changes,
I had no trouble remembering that story.
What a time I had!
Too bad that, so close to the ending,
I suddenly lost the ability
to remain sane.