January 20, 2013

Take Heart: A Conversation in Poetry

Edited and introduced by Wesley McNair, Maine poet laureate.

The Alligator’s Hum

Take Heart: A Conversation in Poetry is produced in collaboration with the Maine Writers & Publishers Alliance. Poem copyright © 2003 by Kenneth Rosen.

By Kenneth Rosen

    To allure an alligator lady so she’ll allow him
To fertilize her eggs before she buries them
In her sand nest, the male alligator
    Hums in a swamp pond like a kid in a bathtub.
It hums like a foghorn: Hummmmmm! And raises
Queer geysers of water by his torso’s profound
Vibrations, these inverted, fragile, almost crystal
Chandeliers his obligatto of amor. I have tried this
    On dates without knowing what I was doing:
Hummmmmm! My date pretended she didn’t know
    What I was doing either and would ask,
“Are you all right?” Hmmmmmm! I’d echo,

Something below my solar plexus now governing
My lowest, reptilian, ganglion brain. But I swear,
    Like people who claim they can’t understand poetry,
She knew what it meant for the hum of the body
To dominate mind, It meant please admire
    My wet inverted chandeliers, which translates
Like all poetry too, into alligator: You can get me,
    If you let me, you grinning, beautiful
primordial swampwater creature you!” Then their tails
    Slap the water with a belly whomp.
They thrash like mad, almost invincible–though the human
    Eye is never naked–and then it’s over.

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