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A U G U S T   1 9 9 7

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by Susan Mitchell

Hear Susan Mitchell read this poem (in RealAudio):

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as if as if as if a hiss, a swish of
fake, of fraud, fraudulent
among the genuine
but why green should be genuine, and this other
this bleached, this platinum, this gold
oh, I can be plain, I can be
plain green in the slippery sunlight, the oily --
like an extra limb, like a fetish
attached to the tree, Cocos plumosa, the feather
palm, queen of queens, like a fetish
a golden dildo the la-di-la
flies and wasps and bees smear their
mouths and eyes with spangled, with vulgar
with not at all good taste like those beaded
curtains hung up as room dividers
from a distance peroxide and honey up loud
a xanthous, a luteolous, a gilded, auric
screech, who said the past
was chaste, was not this cheap
aroma that whooshes from the flowers
bunched in fascicles, each
petaled gold rolled in bundles,
but already starting to
brown at the bend and flank
where the hum, the drone, the whir
what smell
holds them there, sucking, by mouth
fastening and lapping
bits of gold, bits of garish,
as if the branch
like a breast flowing its slow gaudy flow
and all the bees with their laughing gear
pushed out ready to diddle
the dingle-dangle, the ding-dong, dingus
and wouldn't I
for days on end like the flies
mucked with gold, guzzling
fumbling the golden lather, the plush
swaying back and forth, to
be lifted like an aroma

Susan Mitchell is the Mary Blossom Lee Professor of English at Florida State University. Her most recent book of poems, Rapture(1992), was a National Book Award finalist and the winner of the Kingsley Tufts Poetry Award.

Copyright © 1997 by The Atlantic Monthly Company. All rights reserved.
The Atlantic Monthly; August 1997; Golden Bough: The Feather Palm; Volume 280, No. 2; page 76.

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