30 January 2006

Jack Gilbert

[from Refusing Heaven by Jack Gilbert]

Put Her in the Fields for Kindness

The door was in the whitewashed eight-foot walls
of the narrow back street common to Greek islands.
Beautiful light and shade in the clear air.
The big iron bolt was on the outside locking
something in. Some days the pounding inside
made the heavy wooden door shudder. Often a voice
screaming. The crazy old woman, people said.
She would hurt the children if they let her out.
Pinch them or scare them, they said.
Sometimes everything was still and I would delay
until I heard the tiny whimper that meant she knew
I was there. Late one afternoon on my way for oil,
the door was broken. She was in the lot opposite
in weeds by the wall, her dress pulled up, pissing.
Like a cow. Able to manage, quiet in the last light.

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