Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Jelly Jelly - James Schuyler

Summer apples, showy and sugary, mealy and touchy
a finger bruise on the thin skin
brown and silently reproachful as your wife's black eye.

But if September apples ripen
and the sun coats the sights with crinkling sheets
of cold while the waves come yapping
something about "wine dark"
evening primroses in clefts of rocks they lap
in a space labeled, "August 27th 1965
pay on demand," why then it is
when pebbles turn, shedding a summer snow
of salt, palely glowing in the first fall beaches.

The wind is pendant-breasted as a naked Swede.
A frosted fox grape shows where a bird shat as it ate.
Blackberry canes arch and obtrude big nipped.
And the chaste tree blooms.

Back before I made the egg test
I thought the world as flat and very like an elderberry umbel
crying "Hi!" and "Meet you in the jelly!"
or "Under the lid of an elderberry pie."


A prose section ("A Home Book") follows this poem. There is a lot of the beach, some of trees, no elderberry, no naked Swede. That here Schuyler possibly makes fun of the overwrought or overused "wine dark" becomes even more tongue-in-cheek when he uses a dark wine metaphor in this next section. Though the metaphor he uses, though a little hard to see--"The sun hit the sea like a cork slipping into a dark green bottle one-quarter full of wine"--is not one overused.

I started reading this book (The Home Book) last Sunday afternoon before heading out to see Eileen Myles read. It seemed an appropriate way to start a day of words, an appropriate connection. The cover of this book is horrible. Like a drawing I might have done of someone's father when I was in middle school. My apologies to the artist. Perhaps this is why I am unable to find a decent image to include here. But the book is lovely inside.

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