X. Poem of Fruits to Come
Liberation is not at hand.
In my parents’ yard,
A modest three-quarters of an acre,
Stands a single late Elberta peach tree.
In my childhood and youth,
Before all the remaining
Valley acreage was torn out,
The fruit could be found at roadside stands.
I remember one Elberta in particular:
My friend Marshall who lives now
In Missouri and god knows
What’s come of him there brought one
To me at my work. We stood
In the valley’s August heat
Next to the dumpster
At the back of the brake shop’s lot.
I pulled off my grease- and gas-
Soaked gloves and we ate,
The sweet nectar dripping
Down our chins and arms
In such a way that I am embarrassed, now,
To describe it for what it was.
I am embarrassed, now,
To describe much anything at all,
And for the life of me can’t figure
Why other people seem not to be.
Shame follows from the fruit.
I see this now, though it means other
Than what I would have guessed.
There will never be another one.
My parents’ crop this summer
Was small and still pretty good.
At the end of the Permian,
Almost all plant life gave way
To extinction. What thrived
Were the fungi, whose subterranean
Brain burrows toward the scent
Of death and decay and, sending up
Its stalk and cap, opens the veil
Of itself to the flat, lifeless light and feasts.
Jeffrey Schultz’s artist statement:
Title of series: Fifteen Variations on Themes from Levis.
In a series of fifteen brief variations, Schultz will meditate on a number of themes–some of them poorly recalled from memory, some of them badly obscured or poorly understood–from Levis’s work.