Donkey On - Poem by Mary Ruefle
Mary Ruefle's poem, "Donkey On" inspired a novel by Sarah Ladipo Manyika. Like a Mule Bringing Ice Cream to the Sun was shortlisted for the Goldsmiths Prize, The California Book Award, and The Northern California Book Awards. A review of Manyika's book will follow tomorrow in this blog.
Ruefle's poetry genius is found in lyrical moments and sometimes quirky use of images, which have been likened to found objects - a photograph book or a package wrapped in plastic.
I enjoy her description of a Creator who sounds like a helicopter receding and shouts out "I am the Peppermint King".
Most of all, I feel this poem's brilliance lies in its invitation to consider with some urgency what we would do with a present of a private year knowing that it is on our back like a mule bringing ice cream to the sun.
Donkey On by Mary Ruefle
When I am alone I make a sound
the lord does not understand.
Then he makes the sound of a helicopter receding.
Then my sound goes after his sound.
My sound sounds like an ordinary bowl of oatmeal
that can sometimes be almost liquidand sometimes effect a crust.
His sound is small and bitter,
capable of great strength
and universal flowering,
as if the world will never stop expanding
once helicopters are gone.
Of course, I can only make one sound a year
so sometimes it sounds like
Please guess what I want to tell you
And he says
Without a mother it would be good to know English?
And I press this question into a photograph album
without a comma,
which is severely inadequate to the task of
reconstructing a life.
So I say
Perhaps I am too handmade?
And he says
It is spring, I am the peppermint king!
And then he does something generous:
he drops me a private year
wrapped in plastic,
tied up with string.
The only question is how to spend it,
so I carry it on my back
like a mule bringing ice cream
to the sun.
*(This poem can be found in Trances of the Blast. Published by Wave Books)