Sunday, May 1, 2011

Ancestors of the Summer Meadow

(Writing exercise after Richard Eberhart's 'The Groundhog'. First attempt. Original text after mine)

One morning in July when i was a lad,
I visited that sweltering sundrenched meadow
strewn with flowers and freckled with butterflies,
I found a dead possum.
resting on a bare patch of earth
baking in the sun
his possum shape began its terrible transformations.
The full moist meadow breathed
earth's maw ready to consume him.
His stench struck my equilibrium.
My skin trembled and
my thoughts tumbled off reality.

Nevertheless i had to explore
those maggots' seething maelstrom's orgy
diving into his death's dark dreaming.

With revulsion, awe, then sadness
i touched him with a tentative stick.
My stomach curdled with sour thoughts.
The clouds like clotted cream
made sick the welcoming sun.
Life's flame in me drowned.
I stood there dumb
transfixed by this thing,
then sat by his side
nausea settling
and strained to hear the story.

I visited there again
in that autumn's clarifying call.
The possum's fat had melted into earth.
Only withered skin stretched taught on bones remained
I left my summer memories there
wanderings of childhood
packed my bags
and set off for college

One more year the blanketing snows fell
And sweet spring's nectars rained to cleanse the earth.
Returning, I found only his frightful teeth
grinning to the summer sun.
His last laugh to life.
I knelt to breath the moist tang of earth
and tried to listen to the meadow's tremulous singing

Returning home after many autumns passed
that possum's drama left no trace.
The meadow danced its timeless tunes.
I sighed my memories of forgotten friends
and called to the ancestors of that place:
Eohippus, saber tooth,
red skinned cheiftains with their feathered dress,
welcomed me to rest in that earthen bed.

1May2011 busride to nyc

The Groundhog
Richard Eberhart

In June, amid the golden fields,
I saw a groundhog lying dead.
Dead lay he; my senses shook,
And mind outshot our naked frailty.
There lowly in the vigorous summer
His form began its senseless change,
And made my senses waver dim
Seeing nature ferocious in him.
Inspecting close maggots' might
And seething cauldron of his being,
Half with loathing, half with a strange love,
I poked him with an angry stick.
The fever arose, became a flame
And Vigour circumscribed the skies,
Immense energy in the sun,
And through my frame a sunless trembling.
My stick had done nor good nor harm.
Then stood I silent in the day
Watching the object, as before;
And kept my reverence for knowledge
Trying for control, to be still,
To quell the passion of the blood;
Until I had bent down on my knees
Praying for joy in the sight of decay.
And so I left; and I returned
In Autumn strict of eye, to see
The sap gone out of the groundhog,
But the bony sodden hulk remained
But the year had lost its meaning,
And in intellectual chains
I lost both love and loathing,
Mured up in the wall of wisdom.
Another summer took the fields again
Massive and burning, full of life,
But when I chanced upon the spot
There was only a little hair left,
And bones bleaching in the sunlight
Beautiful as architecture;
I watched them like a geometer,
And cut a walking stick from a birch.
It has been three years, now.
There is no sign of the groundhog.
I stood there in the whirling summer,
My hand capped a withered heart,
And thought of China and of Greece,
Of Alexander in his tent;
Of Montaigne in his tower,
Of Saint Theresa in her wild lament.

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