“Self-Portrait in 1969 (Summer)’

Click here to listen to David Roderick read this poem.

The air will become me, and dirt drawn up the veins of the tomato vines will become me, and the mother-ovum, flowerless and hereditary, is staked to a post in the garden.

But a worm finds its way.
And the Japanese beetles,
even while carrying the weariness
of another day,
arrive and feast on the leaves.

Here is the father-seed
hunting for root, zygote, moss.
In each drill-and-sow spot,
each hole that is the beginning of darkness,
stars flare out into fingers.
Only insects feel the pulse
when they struggle
from grooves in the shingles.

The attic apartment on Standish Avenue
is not blue, but the dappled yellow
of a moon groaning
through maple trees.

The aftermath is two people breathing:
the sweet sweat of humidity
for the man
but troubled for the woman
who turned dirt to the light. 3 x 3.
To popsicle sticks
she taped tiny pictures of vegetables.

The price, this year, is cheap
because I grow by the division
of the cell wall, and because beetles
haven’t noticed me
reaching out from simple vines,
blood humming, umbilical.