06 April 2007

i wrote a song with a hundred lines, i picked a bunch of dandelions, i walked her through the trembling pines, but she just didn't want to




I thought spring had sprung in SW Virginia--the children chirping, the frogs singing like constellations, tufts of grass rising from beneath the ice machines--but this morning it's 32, and tomorrow's forecasted high is 38. My classes (I teach research writing and American Lit. at Radford University) are winding down, and I'm feeling exhausted, like it's time to "throw some tea and bread into a sack and jump over the back fence," as Muir says. I realize the elements of today's post (and most other days) are completed unrelated--I thought about using a different song line, but then decided that the light-hearted, somewhat silly song would strike a nice balance with the poem.

Salmon
by Kim Addonizio

In this shallow creek
they flop and writhe forward as the dead
float back toward them. Oh, I know

what I should say: fierce burning in the body
as her eggs burst free, milky cloud
of sperm as he quickens them. I should stand

on the bridge with my camera,
frame the white froth of rapids where one
arcs up for an instant in its final grace.

But I have to go down among
the rocks the glacier left
and squat at the edge of the water

where a stinking pile of them lies,
where one crow balances and sinks
its beak into a gelid eye.

I have to study the small holes
gouged into their skin, their useless gills,
their gowns of black flies. I can't

make them sing. I want to,
but all they do is open
their mouths a little wider

so the water pours in
until I feel like I'm drowning.
On the bridge the tour bus waits

and someone waves, and calls down
It's time, and the current keeps lifting
dirt from the bottom to cover the eggs.

3 comments:

Karen said...

Ah, yes, nothing says spring like tufts of grass rising from beneath ice machines. I like the desolate nature of the first photo. It's a bit depressing, like maybe there should be teenagers hanging out and drinking soda or something, but the place is too run down to ever be the "cool place to hang" ever again. I don't know; I wonder if I read too much into photos, make up too many back stories in my head. Anywho, as always, I enjoyed the post and the poem. Thanks for sharing!

laura r said...

i think the first photograph is the strongest of the two. the reflection in the window is magnificent; it is a world of it's own, or so it seems, completely beyond that of a convenience store. the shades of blue and the parking lot's gray work so well, playing off each other like tonguing two marbles in the mouth.

mark burnette said...

in case anyone is interested, the reflection in the first photo is a sawmill.