Friday, November 05, 2010

Excerpt of Poem by Maxine Kumin

Milledgeville, Ga., 1988

...but first, an historic detour just this side
of what the local intelligentsia
in fond self-deprecation call Mudville
to take the cart track up to Andalusia,
the family seat, a serene remove from town,
as in a good Victorian novel.

Here, from the first-floor bedroom window
even on those last dark days, she could see
her beloved peacocks pecking and fanning,
the tribe of philoprogenitive donkeys
ambling down to the farm pond in the meadow,
a grove of ancient pecan trees bending
to be picked. Not antebellum grand,
but commodious Andalusia, with real gardens
harrowed every spring with real manure,
so that it's touching but not surprising that
when Mary McCarthy remarked, years before,
she had come to think of the Eucharist as a symbol,
O'Connor, considerably put out
by lapsed Catholic rhetoric, flared,
"Well, if it's a symbol, to hell with it."

Not as I pictured her, enthroned
on high, fiercely Promethean
with eagles, say, or lions on the headstone --
but the square, unlandscaped family plot
sans even a drooping willow seems right.
Aligned with her father, three great-aunts opposite,
space for the mother who outlives her yet,
Flannery lies unadorned except by name
who breathed in fire and fed us on the flame.

[from Looking for Luck: Poems (W. W. Norton & Company, 1992), pp. 45-47]