Black stone, yellow field

This entry is part 19 of 42 in the series Antiphony: Paul Zweig


I’m reading Paul Zweig. This is the eighth poem in the second section of his Selected and Last Poems, followed by my response. See here for details.

The Black Stone
by Paul Zweig

Death was my first appetite,
I’ve had others since.

Black stone I swallowed on the day I was born,
You are the loneliness fattening in my breath…

[Remainder of poem removed 9-31-05]

* * * *

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The Yellow Field

        for Beth

Somewhere in that critical hour before supper
I lost my appetite, all of it,
just as my strict Nanna used to warn against
when she set out the sweets.
My other grandma would light a cigarette
& gently shoo us out of the house
so she & grandpa could enjoy their cocktail hour – ah! – alone.

Peace without children, yellow field
where I dissolve, finally, into a murmur of bees.

Given a field of yellow, the weather doesn’t matter.
Given water from the ground or the sky
& my own, too-corrosive minerals, given
a season of ice, fissures growing
wherever the rhizomes can get their fingers in past the knuckle,
prizing the dead stone open along its seam
of gleaming yellow: a field spreads
wherever I used to feel hunger.

I stand in the middle of it at sundown, still as a tall stump
that doesn’t belong,
watching for the brilliant wings of monarch butterflies
beating, gliding, searching for a one-night hat stand.
I could be the spot marked Mexico on a yellow map.
My shadow stretches into the distant woods.

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