"dazzle gradually"

"Dazzle Gradually" 2017 poems, paintings, new art & photography--a diary, a discipline, a delight. Read over my shoulder as I post my unedited poetry ---you can see it in the raw or get my first book and see how the work evolves with new books rolling out next year.

Polly Alice

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Ode to Jane Kenyon: Sweet Potato

Below is a poem by Jane Kenyon, one of my favorite poets.  I was introduced to Kenyon's poetry by my professor and friend, Christine Perrin.  My infatuation was so keen I even painted Kenyon's portrait for my oil painting class.  I seem to still write like Jane Kenyon with my fetish for paragraphs and punctuation in my poetry, (am I the only one who doesn't like e.e. cummings?) and I've become an avid composter.  Could I have been influenced by this one poem so greatly without having realized it?  Potato is the first poem I read aloud at my first poetry reading in my fave coffee shop in college, Wilbur's.  I went onto write a paper about this poem.  I made some obscure spiritual link between the word shepherd from "shepherd's pie" to hamlet--a small town without a church.  I remember loving that paper!  However, now after having fifty or so poems under my belt, I see the word hamlet could have been chosen just because it refers to a small number of people or even because ham tastes great with potatoes.

Potato by Jane Kenyon

In haste one evening while making dinner
I threw away a potato that was spoiled
on one end.  The rest would have been

redeemable.  In the yellow garbage pail
it became the consort of coffee grounds,
banana skins, carrot peelings.
I pitched it onto the compost
where steaming scraps and leaves
return, like bodies over time, to earth.

When I flipped the fetid layers with a hay
fork to air the pile, the potato turned up
unfailingly , as if to revile me—

looking plumper, firmer, resurrected
instead of disassembling.  It seemed to grow
until I might have made shepherd’s pie
for a whole hamlet, people who pass the day
dropping trees, pumping gas, pinning
hand-me-down clothes on the line.

Sweet Potato by Polly McCann

In haste one morning while making lunch
I took an ugly brute out of the pantry. 
I'd let is sit long enough until it reminded me of
a grandfather without teeth.  I scraped off the black
and left the rest, still quite good, to

redeem for an old recipe--
sketched in my black sketch book it had
been the consort of washing instructions,
secret advice, and watercolors of Japanese
Goldfish.  I sliced up the gold freckled flesh
into half suns, their orbs
layered, like bodies over time, to earth.

When I flipped in cream and butter with a silver
fork to mix in the dill weed, the sweet potato
turned up unfailingly, as if say, Can you really afford
not to eat that much sour cream?—

Eat me and you will be  plumper, firmer, resurrected
instead of disassembling.  The sticky scent seemed to travel
through the whole hamlet--people who pass the day
dropping trees, pumping gas, pinning
hand-me-down clothes on the line.  They all came
and we ate--satisfied--dill sticking in our teeth.


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