Tuesday, July 24, 2012



I stepped on the brakes as it flew over the street, over my car, over the brown field. It hovered like a great dark cloud and swooped down, talons outstretched, grabbing, grabbing, grabbing, gliding, just a few more inches, down...
(the mouse: gotta get away get away get away get away get away get away get away get away get away)
It sat like a lawn statuette, eating.

I was in a grocery store and saw the tank of them, “Maine Lobsters”—I’ve been to Maine, Bar Harbour, Cadillac Mountain—they were alive of course, heaped in a corner, backed away from the air jet pummeling the glass. Rubber band-bound claws, like paraplegics laden with useless limbs, heavy, clumsy...and one sat on top of the heap, staring at me, bubbling, nodding, begging. Every now and then, he would rear up, like a trumpeter heralding, dragging his bandaged armor...
(the lobster: get me out take me with you set me free get me out take me with you set me free get me out)

I tried to think:
If I took it with me
where would I
set it free?
Not in the infected
ocean here.
I would have to drive far
to find a suitable sea…

I thought of:
My epicure aunt
who would boil
live lobsters
and we would hear
their shrill screams
as they tried to knock
the top off the kettle…

I feel like a circus bear, juggling the balls, catching the pins, riding the bicycle, riding, riding, riding around the ring, the bright lights, tongue slipping out in concentration...
(the bear: i’m trying i’m trying i’m trying i’m trying i’m trying i’m trying i’m trying i’m trying)

And when I live in the black forest
with nothing but a kettle and a cow,
how will I live when I am dying?
My silent companion, my bovine friend,
what can I do when milk is not enough?
You have watched with warm watery eyes
as I fought a false, barren land,
not fallow but sick and infertile
and you let me take your milk and love
as you chewed your cud and your innocence.
I see those same brown eyes
when I am Shepherd in a sterile slaughterhouse,
holding you close, stroking your soft fur,
weeping in your large flap of an ear,
“It’s all right, you know what must happen...
you’re a good cow and you know your fate”.
(me: forgive me forgive me forgive me forgive me forgive me forgive me forgive me forgive me)

So when I eat my heart out,
someone, somewhere, is setting a place
and they’re eating with forks and knives,
clinking utensils together with a silver glint.
But I take only what I need and I’m aware
that everything before me was once alive:
some fruit juice from the swollen ovary—
a piece of meat, cooked, disguised with spices
but once moving and breathing and dividing cells—
the stalks of asparagus and leaves of lettuce
that pumped precious chlorophyll
and expelled oxygen for us to breathe—
the woven table cloth that spread in fields
beneath white southern skies,
little tufts of cotton bursting forth like snowballs—
the plate of bone china, delicate marrow,
manufacturing slick red blood cells—

the wind hears you,
plants watch you,
the ground can read your mind.
You’re never alone.
The animals know your real name.
Please remember that
you’re always being watched.

©JEF 1985


Anonymous said...

Stumbled onto your blog following a photo.
Glad I did :)

Jeff (Geoff) said...

Thanks vaodiva!