Friday, March 4, 2016

March 4: Blood Fluke, Deep Breath, Matthew Gavin Frank, "Illinois Witches"

Other creatures have it just about as easy.  A blood fluke starts out as an egg in human feces.  If it happens to fall into fresh water it will live only if it happens to encounter a certain species of snail.  It changes in the snail, swims out, and now needs to find a human being in the water in order to bore through his skin.  It travels around in the man's blood, settles down in the blood vessels of his intestine, and turns into a sexually mature blood fluke, either male or female.  Now it has to find another fluke, of the opposite sex, who also just happens to have traveled the same circuitous route and landed in the same unfortunate man's intestinal blood vessels.  Other flukes lead similarly improbable lives, some passing through as many as four hosts.

Yes, it's a weird, disgusting paragraph.  Blood flukes and human feces.  Snails and hosts.  I love strange facts, things that other people find repulsive or simply unbelievable.  Reading the above passage makes me realize that the world is infinitely adaptable.  Blood flukes will find a way to grow, mature, and reproduce, even in the absence of a pile of shit.

I have been in a strange mood all day.  That's why I chose the blood fluke paragraph from Annie Dillard, and the Matt Frank poem below about witches and slaughter.  It's Friday night.  For the past five days, I have been forced into normalcy by my job.  Patients in a medical office do not want to be greeted by a poet with a blog.  They want a smiling face of a person who makes them feel safe and comfortable.

Tonight, I don't have to be safe and comfortable.  Tomorrow, I don't have to be safe and comfortable (except when I'm at church).  Ditto Sunday.  When I left work this afternoon, I practically ran out of the building.  When I got outside, I stopped and took a really deep breath, probably the deepest breath I've taken all week.

Yes, I still have work to do this weekend.  Bathrooms to clean.  Papers to grade.  Things to post for my online class.  But, for some reason, I still feel freer, as if I'm living inside that deep breath.  I'm ready to let go, relax.  And correct papers.  And scrub toilets.  And vacuum rugs.

Hey, Saint Marty is a blood fluking party animal.

Illinois Witches

by:  Matthew Gavin Frank

Broom of hackberry,
dormancy on the lawn.

We don't yet realize
we can eat the mildew,

test the buds
for their sugar.

Where the corn is now, sixteen women
were slaughtered with a scythe in 1806,
the symptoms of sweetness and a burlap rope.
They used farming as an excuse . . .

We all die forward,
the multiplex in Savoy

lighting our bloods
in pink.  Up close,

we look like the short-twigs
of some secondary plant.

The men who laid this field
lit their oil and read how, throughout the Midwest,
the softest of the mites tie themselves
in the shoots, lay their eggs in May.

They read and rename
auditoriums after the breasts

of their founders' wives.
We have since been looking

for a broom-free species.
The reports call us, aesthetically unpleasant.

Until they sprayed us with sulfur,
we had food on our plates, barrettes
in our hair.  We saw the star in the oak wilt.
Imagined the tunnel that, one day, boys

must walk through
after their classes,

ignoring the plots,
all the way to the Locust

Street tracks.  We give them
peanut shells on the bottoms

of their shoes, beetles in their hands.
We give them their long walk,
a fucking sunset before them, trains
on either side.

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