For James, The Muscadines, A Small Turtle, A Red Ant, Other Insects Poem by Dennis Ryan

For James, The Muscadines, A Small Turtle, A Red Ant, Other Insects

September 13-15,2022, Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday, morning and afternoon; Saturday morning, Sept.17 at 8: 50 a.m.

--again, a poem in memory of James Longenbach (September 17,1959-July 29,2022) ; former university professor at the University of Rochester, Rochester, NY, poet, essayist and literary historian, author of Stone Cottage (Oxford UP,1988) , a history of the W.B.Yeats-Ezra Pound friendship and collaboration while living together in Stone Cottage for three successive winters in Sussex (1913-1916) , a book highly appreciated by scores of students and professors alike.

For James, these muscadines, tonight. The search boils down,
to this: "dark as the grave wherein"... I know where it is;
they are; the grapes I mean, those I left to ripen while picking earlier; I go to those places, look in, around the vines, on the ground. Shake them. No fall tonight. Almost nightfall. A pint maybe, the season almost over; almost... seems more than early thistime, this year despite the rainfall, the leanest season
in years. One section of trees had been cut, last year, where
the grape vines had hung heavy for so long, forever, producing heavily; at one place, I was late tonight, hundreds of spent, split blackish-purple grapes littering the ground. I should have known better; should have looked days before. I regret... Sono zannen na. その残念な. This regretfelt, amongst others.
Then a small turtle, sitting on the ground to my left; observing me, looking up, I down. I moved; it too, withdrawing its head
into its shell. "Welcome, friend, " I said. Touched the top of its carapace; a shell; agua, acqua, mul, mizu, water. 水 Hydration. Survival. "This place is for all of us. Our survival depends on it. Everyone. Everything. Though some don't know, appreciate
this earth; no, not yet if ever. No, now go educate them.
But slow. Go slowly. They're slow learners." Will. Love and Will. (Whatever happened to Rollo May? Exist. Existent. Existential Psychology. The will to survive.) I continued my search, walked farther up the line to where I hoped to find a few muscadines
left from days before. Little luck. A few. Very few. We few, 'we happy few, we band of'— on St. Crispin's Day. That speech given by Henry V. Five. Those giving their lives... I thought
of hundreds of muscadines wasted, their translucent juices spilled on the ground and concrete, in some instances, on sidewalks, and the like. (Places like those where I had been assaulted—) All their juices wasted except for tasting, drinking by the random ant, other insects, winged, blue-translucent beetles perhaps, insects I don't know the names of. I look
down at these creatures, tiny, some miniscule, some crawling around, others scurrying about, a panoply of insect life vida de insectos saol feithidí, konchu no seikatsu 昆虫の生活. We are food—for—for—a small red ant right now scurrying on my right hand fingers, to the finger tips; I grab it lightly; show it to Kim,
sitting, sayiny, "I think this might be the kind that really stings.
A fire ant maybe. I-" "Kill it then", she replies, tired from work, repairs; the kitchen ceiling, the wall painted where ceiling and wall meet; an hour ago: different colors; beige, white; my painting
not satisfying to her—so off the ladder—"Not going to kill it", I reply; "I was just outside, checking the garden; must have crawled onto me; then; all those tall green stalks, leaves
I walked through—the eggplant, artichoke, tomato vines;
going to release it outside; no point killing it" I decide, walking
out the front screened door, the weather still summer-like
here in Raleigh, North Carolina, and will remain so for another month; it all depends; our weather changes rapidly, not like up North, northern states, New York, for example; sometimes,
you don't know what you are going to get here day to day;
not right now though... though that first frost, it does not arrive until at least the first week in November, often later; so the garden, the eggplant now flowering has another two months
or so for growth and producing; the eggplant's light-purple flowers half-a finger's length with yellow stamens. (Sorry, I digress.) I think James would understand; his speaking
with me before. You remember. (In those emails) . I start
for home, darkness setting in, the turtle probably in the exact same spot, position. Maybe too late to crawl back to the creek; Bbding its time. Time. Time. More time-- "Dark as the grave." These small creatures, animals, insects wear us out. Outwear, simply outlast us, James. James, can you hear me? That barranca. Under The Volcano. The Consul. Thrown into it to-- Too much seen, and not enough seen... Tell me, is there
an art, a verse, a poetic line, a poetic—"A round of fiddles playing Bach? "—to put in play for all, all of this? Something apt perhaps? Darkness set. That barranca. The roadside dark.
And I walk. And walk. I walk. I will meet you again someday, James, and John, Karen, Joanna, Kim as well in Paradise,
Cold Play. Some day. "We expected the world." And got...

Saturday, September 17, 2022
Topic(s) of this poem: remembrance,reminiscences,memorial,memory,william butler yeats,famous poets,avant-garde poetics,poet,poetry,friendship,human condition,insects,animals,human and animal,nature,natural hazard,earth,mother earth,mind,psychology,debt,disappointment,death,death of a friend
The poem is a continued, serious reflection on life, life and death, occasioned by the passing of James Longenbach, an acquaintance of mine, but a kind acquaintance who took the time to tell a few stories, provide a few explanations, and recall an incident at the University of Maine, Orono, in which he said, 'I'm glad my mother is not here', in response to a question from his friend Ron Bush, following a disquistion on the book Stone Cottage by Professor Hugh Witemeyer of the University of New Mexico. This happen during the summer of 1989.
Dennis Ryan

Dennis Ryan

Wellsville, New York
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