Thursday, April 14, 2011

Poem: "Almost Nothing In It"

Almost Nothing In It

The Great Mother’s visage is her bulging belly
with its blind navel in the middle.
—Wisława Szymborska, “A Palaeolithic Fertility Fetish,” translated by Stanisław Barańczak and Clare Cavanagh

After we are gone for a very long time,
our archeologists will discover a tube of lubricant
in the ashes of the fireplace
while digging for the silver music discs we played.

The tube, the length of a hand, makes no sound
even when it is shaken vigorously.
It goes thud, thud when it slaps the fired bricks.
It hardly squeaks when it is rubbed.
It must be inserted into a slightly bigger cylindrical slot
in a machine like the juice maker unearthed yesterday.

Its top comes off, the plastic screw threads worn down like teeth.
It smells like adhesives.
There is almost nothing in it,
but the boys at the lab will make sure.

Then it will be cleaned and classified and labeled
in a traveling show
that will attract a heated ephebe
to compose a poem.
He will, of course, make out the tube to be a sex fetish.


Ms. said...

I have learned a new word from this excellent illusion Jee:

Ephebe-(in ancient Greece-a young man of 18–20 years undergoing military training.

Jee Leong Koh said...

I remembered the word from Wallace Stevens' "Notes Towards a Supreme Fiction."