Monday’s Verse 1/12/2015 (David Unger)

Sorry again for the delay this week–and not much time to delve into today’s piece. I’m looking again at “Neither Caterpillar nor Butterfly,” by David Unger. I wonder if he has pale skin, cuz his name’s an anagram for “dreading UV.”

I read a haunting op-ed today, with the following paragraph placed second:

The strain of burying the past, losing one identity and embracing another, can be overwhelming. Home is an indelible place. It is the landscape of unfiltered experience, of things felt rather than thought through, of the world in its beauty absorbed before it is understood, of patterns and sounds that lodge themselves in the psyche and call out across the years. When home is left behind, or shattered, an immense struggle often ensues to fill the void.

That paragraph is sort of a prose poem itself, and it definitely shaded the way I read “The Exile” a little later in the afternoon. Enjoy. -ed.

THE EXILE

A once lightfooted bear
in exile, in Paris: for thirteen years
behind bars in a two room flat.
So much happiness he has
in buying a can of black beans,
the charred smell of corn
cooked over an open fire,
but only a teasing memory in Pigalle
where whores sell themselves
like those glum Africans
peddling drums by the Louvre.
We drink a bottle of Scotch,
part bread to celebrate the Sandinist victory,
our minds grow soggy, his heart
a raw nerve being plucked.
The scene’s cut at sundown:
I trundle heavily to the Metro,
half-glad to be alone again
while he rereads the letter from a son
he has never seen.

-1986

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