By Mary Jo Bang
Winner of the 1996 Bakeless Literary booklet Prize for Poetry
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Additional resources for Apology for want
The eye will only bring the train this close. Page 40 The Holy Grail If it were simple, would we have come? Armored from skull to boot tip astride a snorting beast. When we arrived this littered hill was clean. And those we came to fight, to tame had everythingso it seemed. Dust pours from the Cathedral dome. Bodies absorb the damp ricochet of a pigeon trapped against glass. Page 41 Persephone Leaving She's picking flowers, meadow goldenrod and belladonna, sometime near noon. And comes Pluto from Hades in his golden chariot heart full of flung arrows from cupid's bow.
Of course, what each new generation has to learn for itself is the art of light packing, weight of a detail, the patient watch for the Sun's eclipse. Let a woman sob at a windowsilhouetted, otherworldly. The light above the Hudson changes with scintillating speed. Dogs do well, however, chasing their own fitful shadows and squirrels quickly learn to sit open-mouthed beneath a tree while November shakes acorns and the season earns its name. She's wrapped herself around it, waiting to be returned.
The branches hold tight imperfect berriesdroplets poised over dark earth, brighter blood, belated warning: It is over. Page 11 Apology for Want I've worried far too much about the eye of the other: the shopkeeper and his lackey clerks who think I steal. How smart we are all getting. Soon we will understand everything: why our first breath, when our last. Why a rat, even though shocked every time it eats, never stops knowing hunger. There are few ways to free the body from desire, all end in anarchy.
Apology for want by Mary Jo Bang