Rachel Blau DuPlessis — Praxilla's Silliness
from Tabula Rosa (Potes & Poets, 1987)


for none but a simpleton would put cucumbers 
and the like on a par with the sun and the moon.
             Zenobius, Proverbs, Lyra Graeca, III.
rounded moon,
Its unspilling
Honeyed face of the sibylline
Everything message, every randomness
twigs fallen just like that   here
bright lined bulging square.
Pepo   pepo   pepo
fruit of melon, cucumber, squash, pumpi-
slimy-seeded   cries   hot
August bouncing.
Sweet the push push out of the cell
mint watery by waysides
soft-leafed basil
tipped by bushy bracts
cusps of the moon.
Under the fingernails
dirt, flour, yeast
crusts of the sun.
Walk down the road until you go under it.
              . .
Dew on the wheat filed wells up bread.
Stars, grass, fruit, all variants
Bite down.
The light travels like salt
The dark is thirst
deep shadows
of longing for more light-
But is not the longing for shadows
earth of the meeting tides?
                . . 
Wood white
large white little white
littler fritillaries
"lords" of air.
Green plums red plums yellow sun
grizzled dotty (newsprint) juice
the drupy fruits
always russing somewhere
A leaf's moist papery crescent sloughs off.
Of silver-waxy bloom
of cuke uncurls
I sing.
The flea lights brisk upon
one tucked foot in the dark.
               . . 
Written veins the stones' intrusions
untranslated rocks.
Me goes leaping full and empty.
Now the dead dare coming closer.
All is inscribed, 
nothing feeds them,
every day a heavy vulval loaf.
Are you ready
to go down
by the water?
What cannot be said
will get wept.
We live a little patch it doth
go forward
into grief
small lilac leafed
no blossom
white feather, blossom. 
                     . . 
Travel through
picking and washing.
Flesh level, iridescent.
Roads travelled, roads untravelled
often equal.
Heavy as stone, loose as honey
is constantly falling into earth.
So dress for the journey.
Pink for the cave
Pink for the endless stairwell
One hell, two deaths,
three tasteless oatcakes.
                   . . 
What starts and calls and whistles
through the long clicking night?
Littoral, on the jot and tittle coast-
that the
little tides
catch into gravel, stars.
What I miss most when dead is the travelling
and after, stars
the shining sun and moon
crisp cucumbers in season
the apples bright
black-seeded pears.
But when I am living, bite hard
into the crossroads
cukies wet and apples sweet
I can sing and I can eat.
                 . . 
life deciduous as the moon.
                 . . 
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