Search This Blog

Friday, June 5, 2009

Fast Day 105 June 5 2009 {Works and Days: Autumn}

Works And Days: Autumn

orchard, apple trees, blueberry and gowan everywhere one looks.
cordgrass and big blue stem, queen anne's tatting
the thousand blooms launched in Troy
and given to Achilles;
but he would none of it,
and went in exile amidst the general camp
and only brave Hector's blood could call him forth to fight.

of apples: the cole, the pippin, alexander and hawthornden
codlin, the hoary morning and the pearmain
tell us the date and time of year
when the builders moved
and destroyed the one square mile
of reinette land...of rows of trees...the great die-off
of the species of the land with a sign as sure as iridium.

It was just before the bottom fell from out the housing boom,
and left a scar of land, untimely ripped like MacDuff,
from the nurturing mother's love;
yawning between arid hummocks
until that future age and small perchance
when Birnam Wood does resurrect and clamorous comes
to Tel Aviv - as we sit blinking, blinking, in our cage of glass.

I miss the fruits globular, the oval, and apricots of sweet
and bitter kernels both, and the wild hyssops
tall as royalty, wearing original blue
and fleur-de-lys
wild camomile, costmary, chive-
rough diamonds undiscovered - like the value
of all human beings, cut down like trees, crushed like weeds.

© 2009


generally, a meditation on the destruction of large areas of land during the housing boom. Just before the end, there was an area one square mile destroyed nearby. I can never drive by there anymore. Nothing so far has been built, and it is an open wound as well as retribution.

there was an apple orchard at one time, and the names of many autumnal apples are used.
when I was younger, people used to tell me that Inuit peoples had a couple hundred words for snow and ice in its various forms. what I did not realize was that English speakers have hundreds of words, not only for ice and snow, but for all the things which grow.

{gowan} Scots word meaning wild flowers

{ Achilles } a reference to Achillea Millefolium, or yarrow, and sort of an old-timey invocation to the muses who guided Homer's song of the Iliad.

{ iridium } the element marking the KT geologic boundary which is part of the argument establishing the great die-offs of that age as due to a comet strike.

{ MacDuff } Scots thane who defeated MacBeth; we speak of his birth by Caesarean.

{...arid hummocks } a tasteless pun on something of Horace.

{Tel Aviv } where Adolf Eichmann was tried.

{ last stanza } all mankind has value - none are to be considered as collateral damage.


Ruth said...

Perhaps you could add a note about Works and Days? I had to look it up and found that it's a Greek poem by Hesiod. I'm pretty ignorant though.

I like the litany. There is something about naming, lending importance thereby. Like reading the names of the dead.

Montag said...

Good Point.
I'm always afraid that I shall appear insulting if I assume someone is not familiar with something I say or write.

Your remark on naming is interesting.
I was just reading - about 15 minutes ago - about Adam's naming of the animals in Eden, and then Noah's naming of stuff after the flood.
And the poem is like reading the names of the dead of the cleared field...
And what do we do when we recite a litany of the names of the dead?
I'm not sure. I've never really thought about it exactly so before. But we have had numerous monuments to the dead within our lives: Vietnam memorial with names, Holocaust memorials with names, cemeteries in Normandy...

I wrote a short story once called The Growing Season. Memorials to the untimely dead were not planned and designed, they burst upon the landscape and grew unrestrained - symbols of the wars and greeds and angers which drove the memorialized to death......

Now you've got me thinking about more stuff.

Montag said...

you know, I never really made the conscious connection between Works and Days - whose first line is "Sing, Muses, sing of the Pierian Grove..."

and the fact that I was writing about a destroyed grove, or forest.