25 January 2012

i tried to say what i saw (paradise. a poem by arthur smith)


I used to live there. Every morning
The downtown streets were cobbled with gold, honey
Flowed—all that stuff. I’m not kidding. Summers
Lasted a lifetime, broken by Christmas
And New Year’s.
Mornings were like waking to someone’s scent
You hadn’t yet met and married for life,
Though I didn’t know that then—the night-cooled
Muskmelons rolling belly up to the stars,
And by late afternoon the dusk-colored
Dust of apricots on everything.
From that earth, my body
Assembled itself, and when the veil dropped,
I tried to say what I saw. The light winds
Around me died, the sheers of summer wavered
As though all of it were mirage. Cantaloupes,
Grapes, clusters of ruby flames like champagne,
Though I didn’t know that then—
Nectarines like morphine—didn’t know that either.
Oranges, almonds, rainbows,
Tangs—rolling in all year long, that bounty.
You tell people that, over and over,
And it’s really crazy, they won’t believe you.
All that sugar coaxed out of clay, and you
Can’t even give it away—and each dawn
More is just piled on. I took in as much
As I could, like larder, and walked away.

Arthur Smith

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