Thursday, November 15, 2012

James Tate

You Don't Know Me

Sometimes you hear a xylophone
deep in the forest and you know
that things are just not right.
Vichyssoise beneath a canopy
with several unnamable beautiful
peekaboos may have gotten me off
to a less than promising start,
so a chickadee gyrating in my ear
and a catbird spilled the champagne
and a dog waygone chainsawed
some pleasure I left on the table
for a tip, an itsy-bitsy gratuity.
I got home on the back of a grackle,
poky me. In the big chair I started
whistling and singing a melody:
It was the forest tune, about bugs
and sunlight and snakes and mumbo jumbo.
And now it is your turn to burn,
the song said, but first you must travel
to Cameroon unapprehended
in the eye of a cold, dead hurricane.
You're starting to annoy me, I said.
I was trying to annoy you, the song said,
to see if you were really listening.
There's a hole in my head, I said,
I was hoping you would help to fill.
What do you take me for, skillet biscuits?
Perhaps. But you are also the forest song
which is long and deep and clear.
I exist but I have no purpose, the song said,
but I'll pour some cool water over you
that you will not soon forget.

fr. Memoir of the Hawk
[New York: Ecco/HarperCollins, 2001]

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