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As the resident poet at EcoHealth, my verse finds inspiration these days in the spectre of global pandemics. At LMU Munich's Amerika-Institut, where I tutor composition and poetics, I'm anatomizing the sonnets of E. A. Robinson for my dissertation. I also teach at M√ľnchner Volkshochschule and Amerikahaus.

20121019

Oysters


by Seamus Heaney

Our shells clacked on the plates.
My tongue was a filling estuary,

My palate hung with starlight:
As I tasted the salty Pleiades
Orion dipped his foot into the water.


Alive and violated,
They lay on their bed of ice:
Bivalves: the split bulb
And philandering sigh of ocean --
Millions of them ripped and shucked and scattered.


We had driven to that coast
Through flowers and limestone
And there we were, toasting friendship,
Laying down a perfect memory
In the cool of thatch and crockery.


Over the Alps, packed deep in hay and snow,
The Romans hauled their oysters south of Rome:
I saw damp panniers disgorge
The frond-lipped, brine-stung
Glut of privilege


And was angry that my trust could not repose
In the clear light, like poetry or freedom
Leaning in from sea. I ate the day
Deliberately, that its tang
Might quicken me all into verb, pure verb.



Note:  A recitation can be heard here.

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