by Diane Ackerman
(originally from Wife of Light, 1978)
A.R. Ammons Amid the Fungi
You say: segmented worms
roll back their saddles
And I say: yes, and pine bristles
like a boar’s back.
And you say: red-capped fungi
will fabric the spring.
And I say: yse, and woodchucks
in hibernation are breathing
only ten times an hour.
And you say: shape & form & saliences.
And I say: verbal pliés, acoustic fatigue,
and do you read lodestars and cereal boxes?
And you say: yes, and navigation manuals,
place mats, and hurricane charts.
And I say: do you mind that it’s colder
than a polar bear’s menses? or that a cat
in a black hole in space becomes linguini?
I say: did you know that from Rimbaud
you get barium and radium, Bim, Bram,
mab, braid, drum, dram, daub, raid?
And you say: yes, and also bird & Brad,
Baird & Mau & Ra & Maud. And axolotl
is also good, have you tried vineyard yet?
And I say: yes, and that pockmarked
aluminum prop tha we call a moon
answers directly to Mission Control.
And you say: yes, that trollop’s
on a tether of Tang; she put the rill
in Rilke, you know what I mean?
And I say: yes, a bone knits and
a river purls, and I’ve always
admired your Southern kraal.
And you say: jejune, and knee-deep
in the magma.
And I say: this is not the Hebrew letter
And you say: one thing about death –
And I say: where the hell are we
and, incidentally, how the hell is it here?
Isn’t a friend someone to tread water with?
And you say: the asylum of idle chatter
is wide open.