Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Letter From Washington County \ Ryokan And Little John

Nancy: The back-to-the-land woman and national politics – what a treat it was to read this at the Maine Fair and to hear a yelp of fellow-feeling from the audience.

Letter From Washington County

They said four minutes to midnight
and I said heliotrope, larkspur.
They said gunfire, democracy
and I said peppers, beans, round red beets.
They said me first
and I said cherries, apples, pears;
I said grapes.
They said God is on Our Side.  I said,

Oh.  Oh, I said to my neighbor,
will you come with your two horses,
your black team, and plow –
plow the flat piece, near the bay,
where the hay’s run out?

They said trickle down economics
and I said mulch, I need mulch.
They said massive deterrent and worst
case scenario, but I couldn’t keep up,
next thing I knew trees
were polluting the moralmissiles or
was it the mighty majorities
and I said,

Shit.  Well, I said shit to myself,
what I said to my neighbor was
barn dressing, you know that’s pretty poor clay,
I looked at those furrows and said
could you bring me some barn dressing,
some for the field you plowed and some for my grapes?

He said, Thursday,
and I said thanks, and dug four holes
for the grapes.

Alan: In a scene imprinted in childhood from TV and movies, Little John and Robin Hood meet cute, fight, and make up.  Only much later did I see that Robin Hood was really Ryokan in greenwood garb.

Ryokan And Little John

He blocked the bridge –
just a slick adzed log
spanning a creek –
said it was his border,
I could not pass.
So of course we fought,
pushing and shoving with crossed staves
until I slipped, sat on my ass
in mucky water.  He, laughing so hard,
bent double, gasping,
soon followed.  We hauled
each other out, dripping weed
and slime, collapsed on the bank,
stared up through shining leaves
at the hidden sun, lay there
 all afternoon, telling our stories,
ended up friends, have
never been parted, two thieves
open-handed in a kingdom
of clenched fists.

“Letter From Washington County” first appeared in Slow Dancer magazine.

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