This is the
the rain in north Florida:
rain on the fanned fronds of the saw palmetto;
on the forked bracts of mock bishop’s-weed.
The gray floodgates
of the heavens are open—
thunder, God’s rage; random lightning, right as rain.
the weathermen are often wrong—
you believe them,
not having yet lost your faith.
Now a storm, soon a cataclysm of rain—
A poncho? No, you have forgotten.
See how water
assaults the lone fireweed,
its ground getting more disturbed. Never again
the ground, lied God, in the beginning.
Complaint in the Garden
Sir George Somers, Bermuda, 1609
The slender, leggy spiders
found among our drinking cans
and the linen in the chests—
I blame the month of August.
I blame English seed, the radishes
that came to no proof,
that will never thrive.
I blame a kind of Melontha,
the worms I never saw,
the toads, snakes, and creeping,
hurtful beasts I never saw.
I blame archipelagos, all five hundred;
the goodly Bay.
I blame the soil of the entire island:
one and the same: dark, red,
sandy, dry, and incapable.
My Lord, I blame their god of thunder.
The Lady Wishfort
But when I was young
and glittering below the houselights
in my beaded taffeta
and honored by all
but the leather boys
as the Princess of the Wedding Gowns,
and every Saturday night
was my name back then.
And the queens of greater Orlando
came out in force to see me
some lucky straight boy
chosen from the crowd.
Each Saturday I wore a new gown.
“ Love Will Keep Us Together,”
Begun”—I did all
the seventies songs
worth a damn. But too soon Orlando
switched to Disco Inferno,
my six-month downfall.
It’s been twenty years
since I packed up my duct tape. I’m back.
Now? I wear a girdle. Now
I paint my
with a thicker base.
Hickories. Ash. Feathery-leafed locusts.
The wide green fields lay
in the distance, the cattle
up to their knees in clover, the world
filled with scudding shadows.
Who understood the darkness of the soil
under the broad lapping leaves
of mottled tobacco?
Robins foraging in the grass
for their greedy yellowthroats,
or far off, in the dirt, white-shirted,
singing ploughers following their slow
teams in the fresh furrows?
On the long porch of the weatherboard home,
the young gentlemen veiled
their evil, their doctrine—
maxima reverentia pueris debetur—
that of a language long dead.