eric chaet | day before thanksgiving 2002

9 10 2007


Poetry Dispatch No. 31 | November 23, 2005


Day before Thanksgiving, 2002, aged 57:
Sun came out & the river was, at the same time
metallic & full of movement–
scales, not like musical scales, more like fish scales–
come to think of it: a lot like musical scales–
major, minor–3rds & 5ths–chords, trills, octaves—
not quite silver or gold,
some alloy of walleye & carp, I suppose–
& the trees had conveniently ditched their leaves
for clarity of the vision–

&, so late in life, I finally figured out
what the Dutch Republic was & when,
& how it related to Spain & the Holy Roman Empire,
Pizarro, Cortez, Aztecs, Incas, & Cervantes,
expulsion of the Muslims & Jews,
Amsterdam’s pickled herrings,
the Baltic timber & grain trade,
Kepler, Elizabeth, Galileo, the slave trade,
Breughel, Spinoza, Rembrandt, Locke,
privateers, Venetian banks, knights, Mongols,
sugar plantations, Shakespeare,
the Reformation, pilgrims & witches,
English, American, French Revolutions,
Ottoman Empire, Bank of England, Napoleon,
Newton, Hume, Smith, Malthus, Darwin,
Rousseau, tariffs, profits, cannons, creoles,
Indian mutiny, Chinese opium, Irish potatoes,
steam engines, locomotives, boats,
the Taiping Rebellion, & Mexican
& Russian Revolutions, & the various
counter-revolutions & reprisals blatant or sly,
results of conflicting power assertions, & resistance:
no-one gets everything as they’d wish.

By which time, distinct flakes of snow
were streaming horizontally, from across the river,
from the big dark cloud of dirty wool–
(they imported rough English woolen cloth into Flanders & Holland,
finished, dyed, & sold it, especially to the French)–
that had gathered itself along the western horizon
behind the toy-like silo & freight-cars rattling south
like there’s no engine, caboose, or tomorrow–

Sarah called laughing to report that she’d just learned
never to shop for groceries the day before Thanksgiving:
the place was packed & the people all crabby.



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