Portrait Detail, with Pear
Ants have razed the paradise of the pear,
regiments summoned by a mighty singing
through cracks you can’t see in the floorboards.
The time was ripe for their enthusiasm,
their sense of business and industry,
the waving of their antennae like flags,
their trails across the plane of Formica.
The corpse will soon cave beneath its own weight.
Its yellow hips have started to pucker,
mottled by a few improvised brushstrokes
where the delicate skin has sugared through.
What a shame there’s no color to convey
the exquisite perfume of this sagging.
It’s really too soggy to handle, but if
you hoist it from the saucer anyway,
the pear hangs on, like magnet to metal,
suctioned for a moment by what it drained
in the long hurry to decimate itself:
this amber-colored crescent of syrup
enriched by the carcass of one lost ant,
last cognac of vanilla, blood and myrrh.
Christopher Bakken is the author of two books of poems: Goat Funeral (forthcoming from Sheep Meadow Press) and After Greece, which won the 2001 T. S. Eliot Prize for Poetry. He is also the co-translator of The Lion’s Gate: Selected Poems of Titos Patrikios, forthcoming from Truman State University Press. He teaches at Allegheny College. (4/2006)