Mood For The Country
There is joy in the woods just now 1
although I don’t know how I know it
being born of temper & wavelengths,
untutored about the origins of woods:
the maple, the ash, the hickory.
Still, I hear joy in the woods just now
and in the music that is born there:
in the Appalachian banjo or in a cello
made of temper & wavelengths
rocking Esperanza Spalding’s Land of the Free,
tips of her fingers caressing the strings.
There is joy in the woods just now and
every show of hands knows it, knows the time
to listen is short even as we all will, one day,
succumb to temper & wavelengths but
we know this too: there’s a cure to be had
in mood’s music, under an American chestnut.
There is joy in the woods just now where
we are so much more than temper, wavelengths.
1 Opening line of Claude McKay’s poem “Joy in the Woods”
History, necessarily brief
Cluck, crack, yellow, mellow.
Then a mer-fish (someone
named them Eve plus Adam)
grew three legs and coupled
but they soon grew sick of
omelets with cheese & enough
will never be enough. So came
dachshunds and turtles, the hut
in the suburbs by which I mean
to say overcrowded cities of tent
to which the nomads objected,
citing the gods, citing oil-slicked
waters, and sometimes—often—
citing no reason at all. But isn’t
the reason for what happened, after,
the weapons: the rock, the spear,
a boomerang, Chinese gunpowder?
Okay, I’ve skipped some great stuff
that was the new big thing along
the way: sea-cry of a conch-shaped
trumpet; the screw press Gutenberg
invented to record everyone’s sins;
the potter’s wheel, ship’s wheel, fly
wheel, all depending on torque just
as many men do. Anyway, all this
was going on while wars, famines,
tsunamis, wars, were. Then, of
course, a family went to see Old Yeller,
flew to the moon, felled the birch &
the sycamore. But ruin can be fine in
the end: we each shine our own apple.
I loved. Or something proximate.
but in another-ness.
Music was neither classical
Breakfast was eggs, cucumber,
and we hungered
for the rest of the day.
Look for the oasis, I said.
Where’s the salve for rug burn,
you asked, you asked, you asked
while I counted limp petals:
he loves me
so why has he plated the knives?
I loved, as if on a mountain
you could only find
in a thesaurus. Never fully there,
and you never felt the sting;
you just left the bee to die
after its first, fatal pleasure.