Today's poem is by David Kirby
I'm Kind of a Whore, But She's, Like, Way a Whore
overheard in front of the building where I teach
this is the kind of thing that makes me happy.
Not that the young women are whores,
but that the world is so generous with its gifts: coffee, for example,
and newspapers. New clothes, to be sure,
but old ones as well: stretchy sweaters, jeans with
holes where the knees should be, caps with ragged
brims. The world gives us alcohol, sunshine,
music, and, if we're lucky, all three together:
what could be better than getting tipsy with
your friends on a Saturday morning as the sounds
of the Stones or the Grateful Dead roll out
of the speakers and the meat turns slowly on the spit?
The world gives us not only our friends
but our sweethearts as well, and what brings more pleasure
than the deliciousness of their flesh with
its fragrance of meadow grass, of warm bread?
As it gives us day, the world gives us
night as well. "We're never the same at night,"
said Mark Twain. I wonder what he meant by that?
Oh, I know. Wait, I don't! I'm grateful
for the knowledge I havemore each year, thanks to books
and the newspapers I've already thanked as well
as the Internet on which I looked up that quote
and will now look up certain familiar English
words of foreign origin that you'll encounter
in a few stanzas, reader, if you'll bear with me
yet I'm equally pleased with my ignorance, for it, too,
grows yearly, giving me that much more to learn.
Maybe I heard the young woman wrong, and maybe
she said something else entirely. Maybe she said
"Hoosier," not "whore," for it could be that she
and her friend are supporters of that perennially
excellent basketball team, the friend simply more so.
So many wonderful words! All we need do
iS smack them together like cymbals for their
beautiful noise to fly out. I might have heard
"adulterers" when she really said "adults,"
and isn't that what we send our daughters
to college to become? Or not "fornicators"
but "formicologists," that is, students
of entomology with a special interest in ants
talk about a tough major! More girls should
be interested in science. Not "fellatio"
but "philately": they both collect stamps,
and the speaker has just a few albums,
the other girl a lot. Thank you, world, for the pool
of my native tongue, filled first by the flow
from two faucets, stately Latin and rude Anglo-Saxon,
and topped up since by every source: moccasin
from Algonquian, ketchup from the Amoy dialect
of southeastern China, and algebra from
Arabic. Actually, the word al-jabr used
non-mathematically made its way into Europe
through the Moors of Spain, and among them,
an algebrista was a bonesetter or restorer of bones,
for surely the parts of a shattered bone must
be knit together as must the left and right side
of an equation. Everywhere the world is broken,
and only the poets can make it one again. I bet those two
young women are doctors. No, waitmathematicians.
Copyright © 2014 David Kirby All rights reserved
from A Wilderness of Monkeys
Hanging Loose Press
Reprinted by Verse Daily® with permission
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