An odd poem I rediscovered recently, originally inspired by Margaret Atwood's Circe/Mud Poems.** I re-read this collection recently, after reading Atwoods (much later and incredibly witty) The Penelopiad as well. The voice of "Lexus" turned up later after writing the first poem, no doubt to protest the indignity of being caught in someone else's epic.
I cannot recall how it happened.
I was on fire, I do remember that,
my imagination a tropical sunset
and for one shining
Hallelujah of an hour
everything I touched
You squeal your indignation
through ruddy snouts:
It was a misfire, I swear it.
In the splendor of my exuberance
this was nothing I anticipated.
Tell your handsome Captain
I will petition the Gods this very day.
I have grown old, absent minded
in my solitude
my spells go astray
be patient, dear ones.
Meditate upon this dark, fertile
squalor of sensuous mud
you find yourself
so horizontal in.
This low rooting through an
odoriferous cosmos of fragrant compost.
Are you so undone
by the base pleasure of it all?
This nosing, snorting self-knowing,
the delight of a half fermented carrot?
Never a sow smelt so sweetly fecund before
nor was love so simple.
Surely we have become sleepy,
half-drowned by the lethargy
of our two-legged dignity.
Consider this, if you will,
an interlude of primordial grace.
LEXUS LAMENTS HIS FATEAll I wanted
was a touch, a kindly word,
a little ease.
Eight long Gods' forsaken years
on the stinking boat, and before that,
war, war, war, blood
Who are you,
to name me thus?
Is your worth and wit
so much greater than mine
to dole out shame,
because I dared to love you
in my clumsy way?
Did I not bring you flowers
admire you from afar?
HE is adored by Goddesses,
hears the Sirens sing his wild praises,
returning at last to patient little Penelope,
his pretty kingdom.
Ballads, sung at last
beside his flowery grave.
Me - bale, Lexus, bale!
hoist the mast,
and don’t piss on the foredeck.
Who are you, to unmake me thus?
To twist and shape me
as suits your capricious humor
because my face is unlovely,
my gestures naive?
Who are you to judge my folly?
what magnitudes I glimpsed,
what private splendors
lived once within this breast?
Lauren Raine (2000)
There are so many things
I wanted you to have.
This is mine, this tree,
I give you its name,
here is food, white like roots, red,
growing in the marsh, on the shore,
I pronounce these names for you also.
This is mine, this island, you can have
the rocks, the plants
that spread themselves flat over
the thin soil, I renounce them.
You can have this water,
this flesh, I abdicate,
I watch you, you claim
without noticing it,
you know how to take.
Margaret Atwood, CIRCE/MUD POEMS, (1972)