Saturday, 7 January 2012

Nature poets can't walk across the backyard without tripping over an epiphany

...said Christian Wiman. He's an American poet.

You can tell he's American because of his use of the word 'backyard.'

Let me show you, people of America, exactly what a backyard is.

It's an enclosed area outside the back door of a terraced house, often a slum dwelling, where you hang your washing and where there was an outside toilet. In the olden days...

So, not many epiphanies of the Mother Nature kind to be had in these backyards...

As to whether Christian Wiman is a poet...? Let me see...

The first few stanzas of:

Five Houses Down

I loved his ten demented chickens
and the hell-eyed dog, the mailbox
shaped like a huge green gun.
I loved the eyesore opulence
of his five partial cars, the wonder-cluttered porch
with its oilspill plumage, tools
cauled in oil, the dark
clockwork of disassembled engines
christened Sweet Baby and benedicted Old Bitch;
and down the steps into the yard the explosion
of mismatched parts and black scraps
amid which, like a bad sapper cloaked
in luck, he would look up stunned,
patting the gut that slopped out of his undershirt
and saying, Son,
you lookin’ to make some scratch?

I take it all back. Christian Wiman DOES know what a backyard is!

My happy discovery of the day.

By the way, yesterday was Epiphany in the Christian calendar (no relation to Christian Wiman) just in case my thought processes were particularly mind-boggling.