"Against the Grain"

A weekly poem, read by the author.
Oct. 9 2007 7:27 AM

"Against the Grain"

—for Joy Young

Listen  to David Gewanter read this poem.


"My love is a read rose" you once told me.
Is love a tractor beam, a furrowed brow,
or simple as your name.
*********************Our little engine

is lugging words one stop past their station,
warm couplings stretch the sense. Can we talk straight?
An airplane's black box is orange;
*****************************the orange

is green and unripe; the unready reader
thinks "naked to the waist" means no pants; she reads
"The sailors, stripped to the waist,
*****************************swabbed the poopdeck"

and throws her book down. Hardy's drunken Mayor
of Casterbridge plays cards, bets his own wife
and loses her—
*************he's no Groucho, he repents,

spends his day selling corn, which in England
meant any grain, just as deor meant any beast
preying upon the heathlands,
***********************like the Latin

I prayed to, trahit quemque sua voluptas,
Virgil coolly fingering the heart,
"whatever it is you love
********************drags you onward."

A doom-magnet. Then you found the Eclogues
translation: wolf hunts goat, goat hunts clover;
each was led by his liking
***********************not lovesick Dido

staggering through black woods, a wounded stag,
but slow bullocks hauling yoke and plow homeward. ...
Our evenings, spent at puzzles
*************************and cross words;

even the house is semi-detached—let some
crackpot dictionary root us out. May I
call you, lying upon
*****************a German couch,

Freud Jung?****(may I suggest no pants)—
Virgil stares at his pages, tears them up.
Quis enim modus. ...

******************What bound is set for love?

David Gewanter's is author of two books of poetry,In the BellyandThe Sleep of Reason. He teaches at Georgetown University.