“Augustine’s Pears”

A weekly poem, read by the author.
Nov. 22 2011 7:23 AM

“Augustine’s Pears”

Click the arrow on the audio player to hear Chard deNiord read this poem. You can also download the recording or subscribe to Slate's Poetry Podcast on iTunes.

For the sake of a laugh, a little sport, I was glad to do harm
and anxious to do another, and without thought of profit
for myself or retaliation for injuries received! And all because
we are ashamed to hold back when others say “Come on! Let’s do it!”

                                                                             —Augustine’s Confessions

 

“O taste and see!” I called to the others, for it
was foul and I loved it:
The mere idea of stealing
them—the mauve safou—from my neighbor’s tree,
a sweet desire my mind’s dark tongue
was first to savor again and again before
my other tongue, so pink and dumb. But this
was before I suffered grace which has no fruit
and scrubs the soul of any interest in fallen
things, except for these confessions that lie
exposed like grilled oblations for famished angels.
So I shook the branches from top to bottom and tasted
a few that weren’t as sweet as I thought they’d be
but hung like plunder enticing me in women’s
voices to snap them off and stuff my pockets,
then slip away undetected to sweeten
the swill for the swine back home who roam
their sty like former men with terrible hunger.

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