Thursday, July 13, 2006

I have been a rover


That the sexagesimal calendar had no zero

was reason enough for me to grouse

four thousand years too late, in September,

in Illinois, never to be confused

with ancient Babylon, with mythic

Mesopotamia, which never existed

except in the past tense cast upon

the silt-sewn shores of the Tigris and Euphrates,

and not the two distant rivers

I swore at night we could hear

running away when we were through

with each other’s skin. Little Egypt,

everything there was called:

the place that took my film,

the cabs I had to dodge in the dark

carrying home some drunken

boy with his freight of vomit in tow—

Little Egypt this and that

and our mascot was the Saluki,

a long-haired Egyptian hunting dog

trotted around the arenas

of our ineptitudes. Not until one Sunday

morning when we drove west

beneath mottled, Midwestern dawn

towards St. Louis, towards

the Mississippi wider, almost,

than we could see with fog twill

rising from the water’s passive face,

not until I thought backwards

to the Ohio I’d crossed first

in coming there, in love with the imprecision

of words, did I make sense

of that little name, that borrowed

history, that endlessness slowly passing by.


Sam of the ten thousand things said...

I like the geographical plunges here as the unifying force.

LKD said...

You know, this reminds me of that song, Ode to Billy Joe.

Nothin' ever comes to no good up on Choctaw Ridge.

I heard the song recently and marveled at its narrative power, and at how poetic the place names were.

Nice 'un, Paul.

(I couldn't figure out what the hell Salukis were doing in your poem until I googled Carbondale. HOME of the Salukis??? I had no idea.)

Paul said...

Why, thank ya...