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Poem: Natural World
By John Grey
Above my swing, nothing but the boughs of the tree
and wind swaying in the apples.
I read the New York picture book,
thy brown ants imitating people, taxis,
and the roots, the arteries in and out of town.
I push myself to the top of the Empire State Building,
hold my heart above the gangling spire,
shake and shudder and sing the songs of Broadway,
and yes, one apple falls.
I once asked my mother if I could eat a fallen apple.
She said we didn’t even grow apples.
Back and forth, crisscrossing my fingers,
the silver waters of the fish pond.
Japanese carp glide by,
their mouths opening now and then in routine “O’s,”
maybe saying something in the language
of the gill and dark round eye
but who can translate bubbles.
I once asked my mother were the fish bored
by constant circling of such a tiny pool.
She said, “Of course not.”
In the garden, a yellow and blue butterfly,
thin as skin but quicker than my hand.
And in the gutter, wasps crowd close.
Inside the barn, many a spider spins graves
for unwitting insects or threads for hands to burst.
And the neighbor’s girl comes over,
stands and watches me, says not a thing.
In a field, I run like a horse
but a horse only runs to feel itself free
while I am prepared to race from here to Paris
but for the ocean in between.
I once asked my mother if God was real,
and she admonished me with, “Don’t ask such questions.”
And the neighbor’s girl, on her third attempt,
bored with her own silence, begins to speak.
“My name is Hilda,” she says.
It was long before my mother warned me
about having anything to do with our neighbors.
But by then, the apple had truly fallen.
And God, how we ate of it.
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