Monday, April 26, 2010

Carolyn Kizer

Plain of the Poet in an Ignorant Age

I would I had a flower-boy!
I'd sit in the mid of an untamed wood
Away from tame suburbs beyond the trees.
With my botany-boy to fetch and find,
I'd sit in a rocker by a pot of cold coffee
Noodling in a notebook on my knee,
Calling, "Flower-boy, name me that flower!
Read me the tag on that tree!
But here I sit by an unlit fire
Swizzling three martinis
While a thousand metaphors doze outdoors,
And the no-bird sings in the no-name tree.

I would I had a bug-boy
With a bug-book and a butterfly net,
To bring me Nature in a basket of leaves:
A bug on a leaf by the goldfish bowl;
I'd sit in a rocker, a pocketful of pine-nuts
And a nutcracker knocking my knee,
Cracking nuts, jokes, and crying to my bug-boy,
"Read me the caterpillar on the leaf,
Count the number of nibbled veins
By a tree's light, in fire!"
While I, in my rocker, rolled and called,
A caterpillar crawled on the long-named leaf.

If I had a boy of Latin and Greek
In love with eleven-syllable leaves,
Hanging names like halos on herb and shrub!
A footnote lad, a lexicon boy
Who would run in a wreath around my rocker
To kneel at my chair, at my knee
Saying, "Here is your notebook, here is your pen! -
I have found you a marvelous tree!"
But all I have is a poetry-boy,
A bottle-cap King: he cries,
Thudding from the garden, "What do you call
The no-bird that sings in the no-name tree?"

-from "Cool, Calm & Collected: Poems 1960 - 2000"

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