Published on Academy of American Poets (https://poets.org)


What Happened at the Service?

The forest service team came to my house to give me a thin-leafed tree,
and to say you can have something, if you wish.
You can have this native tree, a skinny branch, a skinny leaf
with bareness between the leaves.  
A shrub like me? Here is my bark-being underneath.

The freight service team came to my office to give me a vermilion boxcar,
and to say you can have something if you wish.
Why is there no train service? No Amtrak? No russet cargo of folk,
no poets to embrace because our hands all unclasped in response 
to the peptic ulcer of too much fanfare, 
woods with austere engravings—plumed-pen-etched-words, 
severe sentences with accusations—then interjections—
poets all alone floating skyward.

I have found the writing on the wall to be formidable—no patois,
no interesting resilience—I don’t care for leaf rot 
nor figures who do their own dance. 
They find frozen ground menacing—they found me menacing—
even when they say in unison you can have something, if you wish.

It was not I who shoveled the shore and fixed it to another place.
I didn’t find the pallor remarkable nor did I steal it.
I did however try to emulate it—pale-face looked feasible.
I thought I could have something but this was untrue.   
I didn’t take your sun. 
I didn’t take your eyes.

I’ve been trying to salvage the bitter roots that came my way, 
the tincture inside watery and unctuous—
maybe the residue is sweet. 
Or look to the river with its over-determined gurgles 
in the vicinity, 
small cascades immersed in scenery. 

All will sound false to you but I can hear my real voice attempting speech—
but you happened to me—you ghosted your way through me,
you shrubbed me, not the other way around. 
I know these things. 
I have been down here, not up there—
I don’t believe in powers that be,
but can see how the world looks up there. 
How it knights itself with the grandiose—the majestic snow
of simulated faces, the whiteness that surrounds me,
and the quiet that follows.

Credit


Copyright © 2010 by Prageeta Sharma. Used by permission of the author.

Author


Prageeta Sharma

Prageeta Sharma is the author of Undergloom (Fence Books, 2013); Infamous Landscapes (Fence Books, 2007); The Opening Question (Fence Books, 2004), winner of the 2004 Fence Modern Poets Prize; and Bliss to Fill (Subpress Collective, 2000).

Date Published: 2010-01-01

Source URL: https://poets.org/poem/what-happened-service