Monday, December 26, 2011

`Mendelian Exuberence'

A superior Christmas haul: The Baboons of Hada: Selected Poems by Eric Ormsby, Pale Fire: A Poem in Four Cantos by John Shade, Ben Jonson: A Life by Ian Donaldson and a 10-DVD Laurel and Hardy collection. The other stuff is practical and not worthy of mention.

We were invited by the in-laws to a Christmas brunch, and while there a windstorm blew across the city. The streets and lawns were festooned with garlands of fir, pine and cedar. The air was scented with pitch, and our hands crusted with it after we cleaned up the yard. We carried the fragrance indoors, petting the cat so he could spread the Yuletide cheer, and my fingers are sticking to the keys. Without deploying the word, Ormsby suffuses the day and his poem with Christmas wonder in “Microcosm”:

“The proboscis of the drab grey flea
Is mirrored in the majesty
Of the elephant’s articulated trunk. There’s a sea
In the bed-mite’s dim orbicular eye.
Pinnacles crinkle when the mountain-winged, shy
Moth wakes up and stretches for the night.
Katydids enact the richly patterned light
Of galaxies in their chirped and frangible notes.
The smallest beings harbor a universe
Of telescoped similitudes. Even those Rocky Mountain goats
Mimic Alpha Centauri in rectangular irises
Of cinnabar-splotched gold. Inert viruses
Replicate the static of red-shifted, still chthonic
Cosmoi. Terse
As the listened brilliance of the pulsar’s bloom
The violaceous mildew in the corner room
Proliferates in Mendelian exuberance.
There are double stars in the eyes of cyclonic
Spuds shoveled and spaded up. The dance
Of Shiva is a cobble-soled affair –
Hobnails and flapping slippers on the disreputable stair.
Germinate on Wal-Mart windowsills.”

By fractal correspondence, each conifer sprig is a tree. Its pitchy oils hold terpenes, reacting with air molecules to form particles called aerosols – the smell of Christmas. The aerosols turn water vapor, visible as mist and fog, into clouds. The clouds cool the Earth, drop their rain and nurture the firs, pines and cedars.

“The smallest beings harbor a universe
Of telescoped similitudes.”

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