Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Donkey On by Mary Ruefle

(This poem can be found in Trances of the Blast. Published by Wave Books)

Donkey On

When I am alone I make a sound
the lord does not understand.
Then he makes the sound of a helicopter receding.
Then my sound goes after his sound.

My sound sounds like an ordinary bowl of oatmeal
that can sometimes be almost liquid
and sometimes effect a crust.

His sound is small and bitter,
capable of great strength
and universal flowering,
as if the world will never stop expanding
once helicopters are gone.

Of course, I can only make one sound a year
so sometimes it sounds like
Please guess what I want to tell you

And he says
Without a mother it would be good to know English?

And I press this question into a photograph album
without a comma,

which is severely inadequate to the task of
reconstructing a life.

So I say
Perhaps I am too handmade?

And he says
It is spring, I am the peppermint king!

And then he does something generous:
he drops me a private year
wrapped in plastic,
tied up with string.

The only question is how to spend it,
so I carry it on my back
like a mule bringing ice cream
to the sun.


This poem is odd and brilliant and I doubt I understand all that is going on here, but that doesn't  mean I can't enjoy how weirdly amazing it is. I like this idea of the helicopters, and that God sounds like a "helicopter receding." I'm not sure that she is playing with the idea of war and when she says the world will endlessly expand once helicopters are gone? But regardless, I like that very odd idea. I also enjoy the dialogue between her and God, because it's like they have their own understanding of one another. I love that he says, "It is spring, I am the peppermint king!" because that just seems very childish of God to say and I think that is funny. I also love that I'm left with the image of a mule carrying ice cream to the sun.

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