the party is mostly over,
dead bodies strewn across the sidewalks.
"Two weeks ago,"
Says Dr. F, walking quite fast,
"We wouldn't have been able to hear
each other speak"
Waves to show the little space between us.
",above the noise."
Makes a sweeping gesture to the trees.
"I like it. It reminds me of growing up."
Down by the river,
desparate virgins lurk in the woods
(easy to take their songs for wails of frustration
these late-comers who might have missed their chance
but, of course
the male cries because that is all he knows how to do)
the path is studded with narrow wells
conduits to the past
and it's not too hard to count by thirteens
1998 - the Lewinsky brood
1985 - the Contra brood
1972 - the Watergate brood
only 14 broods back Old Hickory is in the White House, still grieving,
and wondering about his assets back in Hermitage.
He writes to brother of his just dead wife, son of the Col. founder of Nashborough,
June 7 1829 - To John Donelson
P.S. Mr. Steel has written me but one letter say to him to write me how much crop he has in, how many coalts, lambs & calves and how my last years coalts are–and of the health of my Negroes–I learn old Ned & Jack are both dead–Jack was a fine boy, but if hew was well attended to, I lament not–he has gone the way of all the earth–
[If the ages in the Hermitage register of 1829 are correct "Old" Ned, might have seen four broods, Jack, dead at 17, just missed seeing two.]
but the past is dead
the travails of man and bug are separate threads
they pull apart cleanly like an insect from its skin
we can search for meaning in the spectacle:
thirteen years of tax on the trees
sapped drop by drop by the waiting grub
then the explosion of screams and sex and death
the hungry mouths of birds
bodies dropping from the trees
a windfall paid back to the forest soil
less the hundred thousand eggs
stealed away in twigs
and some weeks hence
a second rain
grubs fall to the soil
to burrow down,
through the husks of their ancestors
to search and find
the promise of return
the fullness of the season and the gathering of things
but I'm afraid I've dug myself too deep
down here at the bottom of the well
staring up at my nearly teenage daughter
one brood hence
regarding me with exasperation.