The Apple Trees at Olema

The Apple Trees at Olema by Robert Hass Read Free Book Online

Book: The Apple Trees at Olema by Robert Hass Read Free Book Online
Authors: Robert Hass
lives, last night
    the odd after-dinner light
    of early spring & now
    the sunlight warming or
    shadowing the morning rooms.
    I am conscious of being
    myself the inhabitant
    of certain premises:
    coffee & bacon & Handel
    & upstairs asleep my wife.
    very suddenly
    old dusks break over me,
    the thick shagged heads
    of fig trees near the fence
    & not wanting to go in
    & swallows looping
    on the darkened hill
    & all that terror
    in the house
    & barely, only barely,
    a softball
    falling toward me
    like a moon.
    What I wanted
    in the pearly repetitions of February
    was vision. All winter,
    grieved and dull,
    I hungered for it.
    Sundays I looked for lightningstricken
    in the slow burning of the afternoon
    to cut them down, split
    the dry centers,
    and kindle from their death
    an evening’s warmth
    in the uxorious amber repetitions
    of the house. Dusks
    weighted me, the fire,
    the dim trees. I saw
    the bare structure
    of their hunger for light
    reach to where darkness
    joined them. The dark
    and the limbs tangled
    luxuriant as hair.
    I could feel night gather them
    but removed my eyes from the tug of it
    and watched the fire,
    a smaller thing,
    contained by the hewn stone
    of the dark hearth.
    I can’t decide
    about my garbage and the creatures
    who come at night to root
    and scatter it. I could lock it
    in the shed, but I imagine
    wet noses, bodies grown alert
    to the smells of warm decay
    in the cold air. It seems a small thing
    to share what I don’t want,
    but winter mornings the white yard
    blossoms grapefruit peels,
    tin cans, plastic bags,
    the russet cores of apples.
    The refuse of my life
    surrounds me and the sense of waste
    in the dreary gathering of it
    compels me all the more
    to labor for the creatures
    who quiver and are quick-eyed
    and bang the cans at night
    and are not grateful. The other morning,
    walking early in the new sun,
    I was rewarded. A thaw turned up
    the lobster shells from Christmas Eve.
    They rotted in the yard
    and standing in the muddy field I caught,
    as if across great distances,
    a faint rank fragrance of the sea.
    There are times
    I wish my ignorance were
    more complete. I remember
    clamming inland beaches
    on the January tides
    along Tomales Bay. A raw world
    where green crabs
    which have been exposed
    graze nervously on intertidal kelp
    and sea anemones are clenched and colorless
    in eddying pools
    near dumb clinging starfish
    on the sides and undersides of rock.
    Among the cockles and the horseneck clams,
    I turned up long, inch-thick
    sea worms. Female,
    phallic, ruddy brown, each one
    takes twenty years to grow.
    Beach people call them innkeepers
    because the tiny male lives inside
    and feeds on plankton
    in the water that the worm
    churns through herself to move.
    I watched the brown things
    that brightness bruised
    writhing in the sun. Then,
    carefully, I buried them.
    And, eyes drifting, heartsick,
    honed to the wind’s edge,
    my mind became the male
    drowsing in that inland sea
    who lives in darkness,
    drops seed twice in twenty years,
    and dies. I look from my window
    to the white fields
    and think about the taste of clams.
    A friend, the other night,
    read poems full of rage
    against the poor uses of desire
    in mere enactment. A cruel music
    lingered in my mind.
    The poems made me think
    I understood
    why men cut women up. Hating
    the source, nerved
    irreducible, that music hacked
    the body till the source was gone.
    Then the heavy cock wields,
    rises, spits seed
    at random and the man
    shrieks, homeless
    and perfected in the empty dark.
    His god is a thrust of infinite desire
    beyond the tame musk
    of companionable holes.
    It descends to women occasionally
    with contempt and languid tenderness.
    I tried to hate my wife ’s cunt,
    the sweet place where I rooted,
    to imagine the satisfied disgust
    of cutting her apart,
    bloody and exultant
    in the bad lighting and scratchy track
    of butcher shops
    in short experimental

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