Skip to content →

Ode to Wheat

They’ve axed the forests, plowed the meadows,

sown and sewed it up, task forces of tiny fingers

and hired hands are pruning back the cornflowers

that clamber and clamor for tenderness of sun

and water, for sympathetic looks without the help

of generations that celebrate the mother figure,

her lavish hips and license to give birth so

she need not fight any more, as she stands

in triumph among us, those who keep meat

on the menu, the love distilled in a spike

of wheat as the final measure of creation,

maybe even grace locked in a swollen grain.

Why would I lie to you? A harvest rots

right there on the ground, nobody feels like

carting it away. We prefer to fondle

the shiny blades and tears on the tips that

recall the etchings of provincial manors,

lost in the roiling mercury sea that stretches

across half the continent; stalks trickle out

of the baskets, leading from famished memory

should we let it drop. The competition between gain

and taste is ceaseless, and beauty falls by the wayside,

like a deserter who ducks the radar to prosper again,

multiplied a hundredfold, at the head of a huge

army that has laid its weapons down, and knees

bent enters the service of a goddess, pregnant

all the time, whose livelihood is gift and suffering.

from Without AnesthesiaFind it in the library

Copyright © Persea Books 2011
Used with the permission of The Permissions Company, Inc.
on behalf of Persea Books.

Published in Ales Debeljak Poems

This program is supported in part by a grant from the Idaho Humanities Council, a State-based program of the National Endowment for the Humanities.

Any views, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this (publication, website, exhibit, etc.) do not necessarily represent those of the Idaho Humanities Council or the National Endowment for the Humanities.