Wednesday, May 30, 2018

Free Dirt by Henri Cole

Free Dirt

My house is mine:
the choice of menu, 
the radio and television, 
the unpolished floors, 
the rumpled sheets.

It’s like being inside
a rolltop desk. I have
no maid who takes care
of me. Sometimes, 
during breakfast,

I speak French with
a taxidermied wren. 
There is no debt
between us. We listen
to language tapes:

Viens-tu du ciel profond (Baudelaire)? 
Always, I hear a little oratorio
inside my head. Moths
have carried away my carpets, 
like invisible pallbearers.

I like invisibleness, 
except in the moon’s strong, 
broad rays. Some nights, 
I ask her paleness, Will I be okay? 
I am weak and fruitless at night,

like a piece of meat with eyes, 
but in the morning optimistic again, 
like a snowflake that has traveled
many miles and many years
to be admired on the kitchen pane.

Alone, I guzzle
and litter and urinate
and shout. Please do not
wake me from this dream, 
making meals from discrete

objects—a sweet potato, 
a jar of marmalade, 
a bottle of sauvignon blanc. 
Today, I saw a sign
in majuscule for FREE DIRT

and thought, We all have
chapters we’d rather keep
unpublished, in which we
get down with the swirl. 
The little wren perched on my

finger weighs almost nothing, 
just nails and beak. But it
gives me tiny moments—
here at my kitchen table—
like a diaphanous chorus

mewling something
about love, or the haze
of love, a haze that makes
me squint-eyed and sick
if I think too much about it.

What am I but this flensed
syntax, sight and sound, 
in which my heart, not
insulated yet, makes
ripple effects down the line?


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