Monday, June 21, 2010

"Feeding the Compost Heap" by Alberto Ríos


Dried teas and sweet peels, shriveling rinds and still-wet fruit—
The compost gatherings speak something to the day and whimper

In the night, alive with their odd congress, this meeting of sours,
Blackness, citrus yellows, coffee grounds, hard sticks and green

Leaves half-brown, onion skins and onion itself, apple and orange
Seeds, pear stems and cut grass, old pomegranates and carrot.

What I eat, that heap has eaten.  What I like, it gets, but less of.
It drinks rooibos and Ceylonese teas, French roast coffee—it drinks,

It tastes them, too.  But in this way, it does not understand me.
What I don't like, it receives much of, and must think the worst of me.

It chokes where I choked, but I did not finish the meal it faces now,
The meal its dinner and breakfast, its lunch for weeks, for months.

It thinks me curious in my likes, and does not understand my dislikes,
Which are its world, those bits the makers of its great, beating, old

Prunish heart, half skin, half rot, something alive, purpling at its core,
Making something, keeping something, struggling, slow with slow.

A white rabbit of vapors emerges every now and then out of the bin,
A chuff of suddenness, a quick wheeze, a long-leap sigh that lingers.

I have watched this heap as if it were a child growing.  From stiff hay,
Sprouting thick and unbendable, to spiderweb moved by my breath.

Nuanced by the slightest breeze, my walking by, by my hand,
That slight shiver every time.  From stiff hay to moving web,

Bristle to wisp, bone to chalk: I have watched it grow smaller, away
From the shapes of things, into something else—an opposite child.

It lays a warm hand on the cool brow of me, heating things up.
Making a mulch, a loam, a darkness that says, We'll start again.

Source of the text - Alberto Rios, The Dangerous Shirt.  Port Townsend, WA: Copper Canyon Press, 2009, pp. 39-40.

TJB: Eco ode. The bemused poet uses long lines & the muted sing-song prose of lyrical realism to personify his bemused & childlike compost heap.

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