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Peas

October 26, 2011

Jenny wanted another poem from the volume Waking the Deaf Dog by Michael David Madonick, so I said (in the comments to The Promise) that I’d post another one I like from that volume:

Peas

Some things don’t want to be
uncovered. My son, in the morning
especially, doesn’t want to be

uncovered. The egg, deep in its shell,
tight as the can of coffee, or
the milk, quiet in cardboard, or the chicken,

almost gone in the ice-box, they don’t
want to be uncovered. They give you a hard
look, like you’ve caught them by

surprise, you’ve been rude when there
was no thought of being rude.
I remember how black sea bass would run

close to the shore, at low
tide. Sometimes I would see them there,
through the water at my knees,

darting like comets after crabs, or
smaller fish. They were fast.
I imagine if they bothered to look up,

They’d look like my son,
Startled, unnerved, insulted by the fact
They were being watched,

simply observed. Sometimes when I open
a can of peas I think
about the universe, about the depth of

darkness, about whether if
the sky full of stars were turned back
like the top of a can, I’d

be angry, annoyed, or would someone
else, looking in
from the other side, complain.

I like this poem mostly because of the other things of which it reminds me–prominent among them are Robert A. Heinlein’s short story “Goldfish Bowl” and David Sedaris’ essay “A Can of Worms.” It also, less obviously, reminds me of the movie Fright Night with Bill Ragsdale–who is someone I knew in college—because the first time we watched the movie, it seemed almost rude to be watching him do some of the things he does at the beginning of the movie.

But, of course, the best thing about the poem is that this is the time of year when few of the things or people I know want to be uncovered.  It “gets dark early now” for a reason. Who likes to get up before dawn?

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18 Comments leave one →
  1. October 26, 2011 7:13 am

    Um I do. I dislike it when I do sleep in what passes for late for me. Like today–I slept until 6:20 and feel like I’ve lost half the day 😦 Yes I’m serious.

    As for what I don’t want uncovered? Me, once I go to bed. Cats get rambunctious and annoying at night and worse, at least two of them like to come up to my face while I’m sleeping and meow loudly, just inches from my nose. Now that is rudeness and I think it’s intentional.

    • October 26, 2011 8:08 am

      I did put that question in partly so you could wave your hand in the air and yell “me, me!” When I no longer have a kid in high school, I hope to be able to arrange my life so I can sleep until dawn, at least a couple of days a week.

  2. Carol permalink
    October 26, 2011 7:27 am

    This is certainly a poem for a day like today! Thanks.

    • October 26, 2011 8:09 am

      It really is–at 8 am here, it was just starting to get light, what with all the rain. Ron pulled out this morning and saw a Halloween-ish sight: Tristan (our white cat) was outlined sitting at the very top of our chimney.

  3. October 26, 2011 8:36 am

    I hate canned vegetables, but I like this poem. 🙂

  4. October 26, 2011 8:39 am

    Canned green beans are a staple of our winter diet. I also like canned peas (LeSueur, because they remind me of my friend Valerie), but the rest of my family prefers frozen ones, especially because they double as ice packs when needed.

    • October 26, 2011 8:50 am

      Canned peas and green beans are just flat out disgusting (see also food rules). Frozen all the way for those two, baby. I will suffer canned corn but never again creamed corn. Vile.

  5. freshhell permalink
    October 26, 2011 8:52 am

    Hee, I was making fun of canned green beans last night as I reminded my ungrateful children just how lucky they have it, food-wise. Why, in MY day……

    I like this poem despite its being a poem. Red has complained mightily about the unfairness of having to be woken up early these last few days so I can nebulize her. Really, it’s not that much earlier than usual but she was so tired last night, she went to bed early. It is the height of rudeness, I think, to wake up when it’s still dark outside. THAT is unfair. But to be woken by a mother willing to read Pippi Longstocking to you for half an hour while the sun comes up? Not as unfair as one might think.

    • October 26, 2011 8:55 am

      To be woken by a mother willing to read Pippi Longstocking to you for half an hour while the sun comes up is one of the very definitions of love.

  6. October 26, 2011 9:09 am

    Any mention of ice-box in a poem makes me think of William Carlos Williams. I love the line here “Sometimes when I open/a can of peas I think/about the universe. The line breaks remind me of Williams too — a little off yet exactly right.

  7. October 26, 2011 9:36 am

    I thought about the word “ice-box” in this poem. I think it must be there for the effect you mention, because otherwise it could have just been “fridge” or something more common that doesn’t throw the rhythm off (as “refrigerator” does).

  8. freshhell permalink
    October 26, 2011 11:21 am

    I’d meant to mention how much I love the word ice-box and how much nicer it is to hear and see than “fridge” which is ugly.

    • October 26, 2011 1:41 pm

      It’s so much more evocative. Fridge sounds almost like an expletive. “What the fridge is going on down here?” “Fridge off!” Oh. Sorry. I got a little carried away there. My bad.

      • October 26, 2011 5:34 pm

        “What the fridge is going on down here?” could be a very useful question for a mother of teenagers.

  9. October 26, 2011 6:27 pm

    This is indeed not as good as the other poem, but that last image is really lovely. Vivid!

  10. October 26, 2011 9:32 pm

    If you like that last image, you’d like the Heinlein story and the punch line of the Sedaris essay.

  11. drgeek permalink
    October 30, 2011 11:57 pm

    Maybe “shut the fridge door!” would be a useful exclamation for the parent of teenagers.

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