On Poetry

In the midst of Step 3, I have failed to meet my goal of posting this week. Between the exam and residency, I have withdrawn from the world yet again and taken a temporary hiatus from my daily reflections. Such is life. Time steals itself away, only to become lost forever in the nooks and crannies of the past.

That said, I had a chance to peruse the wonderful poetry posted at The Examining Room of Dr. Charles. Visit if you have a moment to spare, sit with a cup of tea in the afternoon sun and let the words soak you. Poetry – both reading and writing it – is keeping me alive through these difficult times.

A favorite book of mine, Reflections on a Gift of Watermelon Pickle, comes immediately to mind. John Tobias’ poem, which was chosen as the title of the collection, is beautiful in its youthful simplicity. So, for now, as I head back to bury myself in the proverbial books, as Eve Merriam said so eloquently in How to Eat a Poem, “Don’t be polite. Bite in. Pick it up with your fingers and lick the juice that may run down your chin. It is ready and ripe now, whenever you are.” Here it is, for your enjoyment, consumption, and celebration…

Reflections on a Gift of Watermelon Pickle Received from a Friend Called Felicity

During that summer
When unicorns were still possible;
When the purpose of knees
Was to be skinned;
When shiny horse chestnuts
(Hollowed out
Fitted with straws
Crammed with tobacco
Stolen from butts
In family ashtrays)
Were puffed in green lizard silence
While straddling thick branches
Far above and away
From the softening effects
Of civilization;

During that summer–
Which may never have been at all;
But which has become more real
Than the one that was–
Watermelons ruled.

Thick imperial slices
Melting frigidly on sun-parched tongues
Dribbling from chins;
Leaving the best part,
The black bullet seeds,
To be spit out in rapid fire
Against the wall
Against the wind
Against each other;

And when the ammunition was spent,
There was always another bite:
It was a summer of limitless bites,
Of hungers quickly felt
And quickly forgotten
With the next careless gorging.

The bites are fewer now.
Each one is savored lingeringly,
Swallowed reluctantly.

But in a jar put up by Felicity,
The summer which maybe never was
Has been captured and preserved.
And when we unscrew the lid
And slice off a piece
And let it linger on our tongue:
Unicorns become possible again.

More on poetry when I return…for now, I am enjoying my own green lizard silence.

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One Response to On Poetry

  1. briarcroft says:

    Thank you for reintroducing me to this poem that I read with delight in high school. It has been almost 40 years so I greet it like an old friend. I’ve aged but it hasn’t!

    Emily

    http://briarcroft.wordpress.com

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