I LIKED THE POEM ABOUT YOUR MOTHER DYING
Even gold leaves bunched in the gutter seem to urge you
cough it up, spill the beans, whatever grief you keep,
what joy, what secret evil: all the passing faces now
inviting you to cast aside the knots of sound
to sit at least and quantify, expand the parasite,
clarify the tulip's flake, the turnip's blight–
(They don't care that Roethke made it rhizomes
twining from the cellar dark, Poe a boil-eyed Kraken)
You should write more poems about depression.
Yes, they liked your mother's stark & balding head
but also wanted ghosts: some charismatic
ancestors conspiring in those hospice corners.
These others are too distant, they're too cold. Inscrutable
. .. as onyx sarcophagi swimming with infants?
As poltergeists inside a prison sphere of brass? –no, no
Where are the stone and bones and blood? Here are petroglyphs
pecked out of cliffs. Here is the wild boy of Aveyron
who never learned to speak in any dialect but thicket.
But where are the tears? Where is the rubble and ash?
(Is it a turnip of grief or a turnip of desire?) Or else enough
with the lists just tell us a story, so here is a story:
Once an ox in the heart of Bamako Market
lived hitched to a mill wheel, all its years in darkness,
conceiving only toil in the grist dust, labor blind & silent,
never knowing there was such a thing as sun.
– Amy Beeder (b.1964) from Now Make an Altar (Carnegie Mellon University Press, 2012)
Paintings by George Shaw (b.1966) from an ongoing series called Scenes from the Passion, set in and around Tile Hill, the council estate outside Coventry where the artist grew up.