12 October 2014

The kitten goes and returns masked with small dirt

                             By Genevieve Taggard

American Farm, 1934

Space is too full. Did nothing happen here?
Skin of poor life cast off. These pods and shards
Rattle in the old house, rock with the old rocker,
Tick with the old clock, clutter the mantel.
Waste of disregarded trifles crooked as old crochet
On tabourets of wicker. Mute boredom of hoarding
Poor objects. These outlive water sluicing in cracks to join
The destroying river, the large Mississippi; or the tornado
Twisting dishes and beds and bird-cages into droppings of cloud.
The hard odd thing surviving precariously, once of some value
Brought home bright from the store in manila paper,
Now under the foot of the cow, caught in a crevice.
One old she, feminine, rotted with damp, one worn tire,
Crop of tin cans, torn harness, nails, links of a chain, –
Edge of a dress, wrappings of contraceptives, trinkets,
Fans spread, sick pink, and a skillet full of mould,
Bottles in cobwebs, butter-nuts – and the copperheads,
Night-feeders who run their evil bellies in and out
Weaving a fabric of limbo for the devil of limbo;
Droppings of swallows, baked mud of wasps, confetti
Of the mouse nest, ancient cow-dung frozen,
Jumble of items, lost from se, with rusty tools,
Calendars, apple-cores, white sick grasses, gear from the stables,
Sull of a cow in the mud, with the stem of dead cabbage,
Part of the spine and the ribs, in the rot of swill mud. This
Array of limbo, once a part of swart labor, rusted now,
In every house, in every attic piled. Oh palsied people!
Under the weeds of the outhouse something one never
Picks up or burns; flung away. Let it lie, let it bleach.
Ironic and sinister junk filling a corner. If men vacate,
Prized or unprized, it jests with neglect.
Under the porch the kitten goes and returns,
Masked with small dirt. Odd objects in sheds and shelves,
And the stale air of bed-rooms, stink of stained bureaus,
Flies buzzing in bottles; vocal tone of no meaning.
No wonder our farms are dark and our dreams take these shapes.
Thistles mock all, rowing out of rubbish
In a heap of broken glass with last year's soot.
Implacable divine rubbish prevails. Possessors of things
Look at the junk heap for an hour. Gnarled idle hands
Find ticks in the pelt of the dog, turn over a plank.
This parasite clutter invades sense and seems to breed
A like in our minds. Wind, water, sun; – it survives.
The whole sad place scales to the thistle and petty litter.
Neglect laughs in the fallen barns and the shutters broken
Hanging on a wailing hinge. Generations of wind
Owe you obeisance. You win. No man will war with you.
He has you in him; his hand trembles; he rights
The front acre while the wife tidies the parlour.Economy, economy! Who'll till this land?

From The Voice That Is Great Within Us: American Poetry of the Twentieth Century.  1970

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