9. veebruar 2004

The Excrement Poem

I have a poem for you. Don't let the title fool you - it is actually a thing of beauty, I think. Just a, um, different kind of beauty. Mad Goat, dear, the last line I particularly dedicate to you.

The Excrement Poem
by Maxine Kumin

It is done by us all, as God disposes, from
the least cast of worm to what must have been
in the case of the brontosaur, say, spoor
of considerable heft, something awesome.

We eat, we evacuate, survivors that we are.
I think these things each morning with shovel
and rake, drawing the risen brown buns
toward me, fresh from the horse oven, as it were,

or culling the alfalfa-green ones, expelled
in a state of ooze, through the sawdust bed
to take a serviceable form, as putty does,
so as to lift out entire from the stall.

And wheeling to it, storming up the slope,
I think of the angle of repose the manure
pile assumes, how sparrows come to pick
the redelivered grain, how inky-cap

coprinus mushrooms spring up in a downpour.
I think of what drops from us and must then
be moved to make way for the next and next.
However much we stain the world, spatter

it with our leavings, make stenches, defile
the great formal oceans with what leaks down,
trundling off today's last barrowful,
I honor shit for saying: We go on.

Wow. There are good things in life. I would like to introduce this Maxine to Mr. Halvorsen, who enjoys the body's earthiness in a manner lovely to overhear him talk about. It reminds me of something that happened this summer as I worked for BEST, cleaning bathrooms for the conferences that Covenant hosts. Hehehee. I hope someone out there also remembers the incident. I will spare the rest of you a description.

Actually, my favorite line is the one about thinking "with shovel and rake." I'm quite taken with the idea of thinking with things other than one's brain. My problem with my music is that when I play, I think with my shoulderblades and not my brain. This is why I get into the music but forget notes. I also hear with my imagination and not my ears, so that what other people hear is not what I play. In Ballet Shoes(a book whose worth I knew long before Meg Ryan talked about it in You've Got Mail, which is a good thing, because I don't believe everything I see on TV), Posy has to think everything with her feet, or she won't remember it later.

Grief. I wondered if I could find another copy of Claudia online, and when I looked it up, I found it endorsed as one of those great helping-kids-especially-tomboys-to-understand-themselves books. It's as if I had this friend who was really fun to be with, a good listener, and then found out they were a paid counselor with ads in the paper and everything. I liked this book better when I thought no one else had read it.

Aha. Yet another person fallen for idea that the new way to be mainstream and cool is that you have to be fringe and unique. No! Like what you like, ingest what other people say, and poop out what you don't need or can't store for later.

Posted by tuggy at 02.09.04 20:29

darlingest, i wept. and thank you especially for the dedication. you put things so beautifully. extra props and trendy finger-snapping applause for your last paragraph.

Posted by: the mad goat dear at 02.10.04 21:27

Steph and Joe and Rachel found that poem for me. Isn't it amazing? We read it Sunday afternoon and I howled.

Posted by: tuggy at 02.10.04 22:54
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