When I am not writing, I read Mary Ruefle. I can think of no other poet who so dislodges me from my usual relationship with language and the world. She's simply incandescent, a genius:
The blues and greens, the reds,
the purples, the blanched pearls.
The smocked farmer delivers two heads
at the same time, pulling them up
like a pair of balanced pails.
The children wail. The quartered brainchild
lies upon their plates. Cut, they are swirly-
full of fancy French end papers and strange
lacunas. A bumper crop is in the air:
China stinks of cabbage soaked in brine,
wet and rotten. They feed a billion
on the cannonballs. They pile them in
the streets, they build a wall, they
roll heads until the feathers shed. In
Ireland there’s a lidded pot and they’re
blindfolded. Their mouths are stuffed in
Poland. They’re doll-sized in Flanders,
to be discreet. Such a loss
of mind! It’s fodder for the imagination.
While we live & shout & die, they are
capable of escaping the least of attention
and so survive: thrown into a river
they float, crowding helplessly towards
an alien sea.
What can be discussed in words
I beg to state in brief.
A man has only one death:
it may be as light as goose down
or as heavy as a fatted hog.
Gingerly, the flowers open
and are crushed in the vat.
What’s in your perfume?
The hills of Africa are in it,
and the cormorants with their mouths full of fish,
a bed of carnations, a swannery in Switzerland,
the citrine sun baking Nappa
and a rhino whining at the moon.
An after-dinner argument is in it
and the ever-stronger doses of clap-trap
we are forced to take while still alive.
A whole aeroplane, wings and all,
and the lush spaghetti siphoned into lips
poised for a kiss.
Finish it, finish it.
: Mary Ruefle, Apparition Hill
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