05 May 2007

Camille Dungy

[from Camille Dungy’s What to Eat, What to Drink, and What to Leave for Poison, 2006]

To Put Things Right

What I saw first was an elephant rising,
and though the sight was glorious, it was not
half so decadent as other feasts offered up
that day — women robed in flame wishing
through air toward men in hats as tall as I
on legs as tall as father who held hoops
through which the women sped before arrowing,
violent and graceful as phoenix, into a pool
and streaming out, one, two, three, four, five
spangled flyers from one, two, three, four,
even five corners of the cornerless pool,
into our thick applause — so that I let go
her rising and fed my eyes to gluttony.

But it is that first sight I would sip up

had I to choose just one of my lives
to live again. The first crunch of sawdust
beneath my feet, her knees. Popcorn stalled
between my hand and mouth. There was meal enough
in the sight of her rising. First, just her
on her knees, skin char-gray under those glares —
even her naked hairs showing — and then her rising;
the earth shifted forward under the press of her knees,
and I tilted with it, we all tilted forward, so she could rise
ever so slowly (we heard trust in her heaves of breath),
and we were not breathing; an elephant stumbled,
we understood, as anyone might, we swallowed;
and then her rising, and the world put right,
and women, robed in flame, wishing through air.

What to Eat, What to Drink, What to Leave for Poison

1 comment:

  1. This is glorious! Thank you.

    (any reason I can't post comments
    on Mary's blog? Can I be a team member?)