Sunday, September 30, 2012

Your Sunday Poem

This from "Late Wife," by Claudia Emerson, winner of the Pulitzer Prize for Poetry. 

Buying the Painted Turtle

Two boys, not quite men, pretended to let it go
only to catch it again and again.  And the turtle,
equally determined, each time gave
its heart to escape them.  We were near
the base of the old dam where the river
became a translucent, hissing wall, fixed
in falling, where, by the size of it, the turtle
had long trusted its defense, the streaming

algae, green, black, red -- the garden of its spine --
not to fail it.  They held it upside down,
the yellow plantron exposed; they hoisted it
over their heads like a trophy.  I left it
to you to do the bargaining, exchange
the money for us to save it, let it go;

fast, it disappered into deeper
water, returning to another present,
where the boulders cut the current to cast
safer shadows of motionlessness. 
We were already forgotten, then, like most gods
after floods recede, after fevers break.

We did not talk about what we had bought --
an hour, an afternoon, a later death,
worth whatever we had to give for it.


Alon Perlman said...

This guy?
Never Again the Same
by James Tate

Speaking of sunsets,
last night's was shocking.
I mean, sunsets aren't supposed to frighten you, are they?
Well, this one was terrifying.
People were screaming in the streets.
Sure, it was beautiful, but far too beautiful.
It wasn't natural.

One climax followed another and then another
until your knees went weak
and you couldn't breathe.
The colors were definitely not of this world,
peaches dripping opium,
pandemonium of tangerines,
inferno of irises,
Plutonian emeralds,
all swirled and churning, swabbing,
like it was playing with us,
like we were nothing,
as if our whole lives were a preparation for this,
this for which nothing could have prepared us
and for which we could not have been less prepared.
The mockery of it all stung us bitterly.
And when it was finally over
we whimpered and cried and howled.
And then the streetlights came on as always
and we looked into one another's eyes--
ancient caves with still pools
and those little transparent fish
who have never seen even one ray of light.
And the calm that returned to us
was not even our own.

Churadogs said...

Ah, excellent. Will have to google Mr. Tate. Thanks.

Sewertoons AKA Lynette Tornatzky said...

Thanks to both of you! Wonderful reading!