Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Going Wrong

Going Wrong

The fish are dreadful.
They are brought up the mountain
in the dawn most days, beautiful
and alien and cold from night
under the sea, the grand rooms
fading from their flat eyes,
Soft machinery of the dark,
the man thinks, washing them.
“What can you know of my machinery!”
demands the Lord.
Sure, the man says quietly
and cuts into them,
laying back the dozen struts,
getting to the muck
of something terrible.
The Lord insists: “You are the one
who chooses to live this way.
I build cities where things
are human. I make Tuscany
and you go to live
with rocks and silence.”
The man washes away the blood
and arranges the fish on a big plate.
Starts the onions in the hot olive oil
and puts in peppers.
“You have lived all year without women.”
He takes out everything
and puts in the fish.
“No one knows where you are.
People forget you.
You are vain and stubborn.”
The man slices tomatoes and lemons.
Takes out the fish
and scrambles eggs.
I am not stubborn, he thinks,
laying all of it on the table
in the courtyard
full of early sun,
shadows of swallows flying
on the food.
Not stubborn, just greedy.

Jack Gilbert

Posted over on Poetry 311

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