The Jewel in the Fruit

This entry is part 48 of 73 in the series Morning Porch Poems: Winter 2011-12


“…The brilliant days and nights are
breathless in their hurry. We follow, you and I.”
~ Lisel Mueller

This is a story about time. But when
is any story not about time? Who knows
where it really begins, or how?

The important thing is that the message
finally gets delivered to the king.
And everything is of course a metaphor:

each piece of fruit the beggar has brought
every day as a gift for ten years, the guards
that throw it into a neglected store-room

and chase away the one who patiently returns,
seeking audience. And then the day the king’s
monkey intercepts the gift, breaks the dull

brown pericarp to reveal the riches
within. What can the poor soul do but follow?
In the wood is a corpse hanging from a tree.

The branch does not break, but every footfall
sinks into its own shallow grave. His task
is to carry it on his back, deliver it.

The corpse tells stories, poses riddles,
threatens death. Imagine: the minute the answer
passes the king’s lips, the corpse flies back

into the tree. So it goes, this task
of rolling the body’s stone forward then back,
forward then back, until one forgets one’s name.

How many trips have I made? I’m listening
still, trying to figure out how to answer
paradox without breaking silence, how to sever

the contradictions that faithfully dog my steps.


In response to an entry from the Morning Porch.

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