Saturday, March 16, 2013
Somewhere among the Olmec heads
that weigh ten tons and the axes smooth as water
and the little masks with faces you want to talk to,
if only you could travel–briefly, with a guaranteed
uneventful germ-free return––across the millennia
to admire the chiseled features and perfect
enameled teeth of the living models,
you no longer have to wonder what the subjects
would say to you, because they begin talking,
or mouthing murmurs from their pedestals
and plastic cases, lit from above or below
for maximum dramatic effect. Crackers, they say,
through their eyes, in perfect English, the words
emerging from their frozen features.
––That’s what we want. Crackers, the gluten-free jobs
with sesame seeds. A slice of cheese. Even a lowly
tortilla would do. And a cup of that fermented juice
whose formula has been lost to the jungle.
Crackers, they all say, lighting the shadows that hover.
The voices have spoken. As their emissary,
I head home to my pantry, on a sacred search
for crackers and some acceptable fermented substitute.
We have a poet in our writing group named Will. This is the first poem I ever heard him read––and it was right after I had gone to see the Olmec exhibit at the de Young. (By the way, the title CRACKERS was a Round Robin prompt from two years ago, and that's how the poem came to be.)