i.m. James Agee
What are you going to tell us, Bud;
about the days that keep coming and
rain and wind and the sour smell of shacks
and empty fields and the silence of women?
How do you look your children in the eye
and what stories can there possibly be to
hide the intimidation, the neglect that nails
you and the stench of what you wear inside?
Let us now praise insects that survive and winter
grass and the ways the bed travels and the boy
with a broken head who keeps singing and how
the moon seems to care in occasional dreams.
Let us praise the locust and some birds and those
who know how a book works and the man who
sits in a field with some children and says it is
a special place where the light can become song.
What is song, Bud; what is its persistence when some
yell it from a distance and some hide inside a hymn
and even your own children listen to its sway and
how it rocks the soul if you let it in?
What is it, Bud; keeping you here between days and
the nights that are useless and the junk that you
hear some other men speaking and the solace that
every so often appears when your wife lets you in?
Let us praise the far distance and the biggest star
and the river that lives forever and the way a child
makes a game with some rope and the way that you
can some days see your mother inspecting her hands.
In the photograph you stare straight ahead, Bud;
what do you think this is all about? Are they going to
pay you? Are they going to ask you to say? Anything.
Anything they might possibly understand. What words
are you going to use, to tell, to share, to cut out an image
that they can take to others? Talk of what and to make
what happen when nothing will? Wind. Rain. Dead dogs.
Tell us about dead dogs and how you keep hearing them.
Tell us about earth and the hot nights and the no sleeping
and the scream of the father who returns to swear at you
and the way you cannot ever remember him whistling and
how he never ever praised a thing. Never ever did praise.