Read

"Paradise"

Published:
December 14, 2023
September 4, 2023
Read "Paradise", a poem about nature and man — and the special connection shared between the two.|Read "Paradise", a poem about nature and man — and the special connection shared between the two.

On a thousand wings they came
to that bent and blasted pear tree,
the slender joints of all their legs and long antennae
bending gently on the saturated air,
tasting in their strangely insect ways
the same sweet-sour promise of fallen fruit
that drew us children to the tree
on feet of flesh and bone,
on feet all stained with dust and sweat
and unafraid of stinging things
despite the red and blue and
black and yellow stripes and barbs
and biting parts of the gathered
wasps that glittered on the ground
there, beneath a roof of drooping leaves;

It was a cradle of things
we had been taught to fear,
but in that warm abundance of the air
we learned a mutual peace,
us, and the wasps, and pinstriped
soldier flies with round red eyes, and bees,
and butterflies that with their wings were painting
the scene of summer armistice
in flags of orange and yellow and green
and black; perhaps half the butterflies were black
at that house, living little books of night
lacquered with splashes of blue-green glaze
and galaxied with small white stars
sparkling on their flitting pages;

Green and black
and orange and brown and red and gray
and dusty purple like the low dark clouds on an
almost-stormy day
and yellow and white
with spots and bars and eyes
all blinking, a turmoil of eyes
that gazed between the wings
as if in imitation of the cherubim.

We gathered under the pear tree there
and gnawed half-ripened fruit
still green but sweet and sticky,
and threw the bitten cores on the teeming ground;
and we were not afraid of God, and all the
creatures thick with eyes and wings
had put away their swords,
and the air was thick with a cider smell
and heavy with the sound
of all those wings,

And all the little things on which those
flickering pinions were fitted crept
across the smooth hemispheres of rotten fruit,
slow in the abundant air,
and happy,
full and happy and
so drunk they had been gentled
and forgotten how to sting
or fight; they sipped their cider side by side
and rolled across the ground
unable to fly;

Because of this I dream of paradise
like a pear tree,
bark blasted and black and
the earth underneath uneven with rotten fruit
and a smell like booze and vinegar
and honey thick in the air;
I dream of wasps and flies and butterflies
with black wings,
and dust on all our feet,
streaked with sweat and stepping
unafraid but careful through the teeming peace,

I dream of lips sticky with nectar and the heat
and the smell of rotten fruit
and the hum and murmur of bees
and hornets fanning their wings,
I dream of paradise like this;
I have seen it,
when in its time there was enough for all,
so much sweetness the air was thick
with a rotten stink of it;
that is the smell to me
of paradise.

Creators:
Reuben Kendall
Published:
December 14, 2023
September 4, 2023
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