Friday, March 2, 2012


The Roots of Heaven
he had to read in English,
though composed in French.
A man who lives among beasts
and fires back at elephant hunters
takes respite with a woman
who loves him as she loves
the savaged elephants;
for her the ways of men
remain mostly in doubt.
Romain Gary the maker,
orchestrator of all his creations.
I bet he never wrote better,
Bobby thinks. He tells Bonnington
the story, but it doesn’t work
that way, the prose too dense
no one knows of what he speaks.

They all know The Sound and the Fury,
or say they do. Ha!
"Once a bitch always a bitch, what I say.
I say you’re lucky
if her playing out of school
is all that worries you."
Part of a chorus of Compsons,
yet each voice distinctly its own:
Benjy’s idiocy, spawn of Southern sorrow;
Quentin suiciding up in Cambridge;
his wild sister Quentin, with no father;
mama Caddy, uncle Jason;
and Dilsey, wise in her dark skin,
who, only among these, knows them all.
What Faulkner needed he first saw
in the imaginary tree above:
the errant girl’s muddy drawers.

. . . now Bobby believes
there may well be another book
some day off out there
that bears his own name,
is in time’s womb now.
Melindra scoffs:
You told me not to do the very thing
I hear you saying. Bobby says
nothing more. Now she kisses him.
The day room’s empty.
She picks such moments with care.
The tawny lake out the window
looks like it’s rising,
some invisible whitecapping the rain
and the night is not far off
they may be alone,
her workday over.

(28 February 2012)

copyright 2012 by Floyce Alexander

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