Condensed Version

by Fred Pollack


In that language, a friend is the Sun,
a lover Night, a loved one Air.
There are many forests, and a horror of forests,
so Forest makes its power felt
in many of the few crimes
(which don’t seem few to them) that culture has.
For the most part, Fire goes unmentioned.

Strangers to metaphor,
plants, people, animals cluster
agreeably, for the most part, around their nouns.
An earthly missionary
would find himself a sort of stingless Bee,
forget his knowledge of what they should know,
accept a seedbag and pick up his hoe.

Of course not everything or everyone
belongs. If, late in youth or late
in life, you seem too sad
or lonely (an untranslatable word), they
call you a Pilgrim, though to no known shrine,
and consecrate you to the nameless stars,
and send you away.


Frederick Pollack, is author of two book-length narrative poems, The Adventure and Happiness (Story Line Press; the former reissued 2022 by Red Hen Press), and three collections, A Poverty of Words (Prolific Press, 2015), Landscape with Mutant (Smokestack Books, UK, 2018), and The Beautiful Losses (Better Than Starbucks Books, forthcoming 2023). Many other poems in print and online journals.

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