Monday, January 28, 2013


The poet Erica Funkhouser has a poem called "Malus domestica" in which she simply lists, line by line, forty-one varieties of the ordinary (!) apple.

A few:
Bell's Early
Sops of Wine
Crow Egg
Back-door Sweet
Silken Leaf
Rome Beauty
Sheep's Snout
Evening Party
What are we to make of this? Are we writing a poem, or reading a seed catalog?

Both. Funkhauser is a wonderful poet, who sees the poetry that is all around us. We swim in poetry, yet we live mostly prosaic lives. We live prosaic lives because we are insensitive to nuance, inflection, consonance, degree. I have a shelf of poets. I need my poets. I need my poets to transmute the leaden prose of day-to-day into the spun gold of poetry.

Funkhauser has another poem called "Waiting to Cut the Hay." She is sitting in the heart-shaped seat of a tractor in a farm shed. Just sitting there. And the farm tilts toward her. The timothy grass. The hay. The stones beneath the fields. The far pasture with its sumac and cow-parsley. The road to the river. The river itself. All titling toward her heart-shaped seat. All present. Pooling beneath her seat. She can dip her toes in them.

I need her heart-shaped seat. I want the world to tilt in my direction. I want all those apples to roll downhill to the place where I wait.
Red Gilliflower
Northern Spy
Aunt Hannah