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Daily Archives: September 10, 2009

When someone at a foo-foo reception
Cuts open my first durian, Far East paradise
Fruit, I nearly refuse. I catch a whiff
Of brimstone, soiled socks, warehouse #2
At Olin Chemical. I smell a girl I didn’t meet
In Saigon, but a bar in Lynn, her accent
All Boston, Irish with a trace of German,
Exotic because she was just a stock clerk
With a foul mouth and no future, someone far
Beneath me, summer fun, friends preached
Hopeful and prophetic. I made less working security
For the makers of fertilizer. But each tour
Of the premises at 2 AM, each eerie stride
Past the fresh vats of powder that clung
To my shined jump boots was college cash, a step
On the way up. Maybe she was too
Though the prophets claim odor never lies,
That of the five senses only smell escaped
The garden uncorrupted, that it is the one sense
Enjoyed by the soul. Here I am with fruit
Thick skinned, spiny but sweet as sherbet,
Its stench so potent there are no flings,
No wild sowing ever that doesn’t endure
On that lower cruder level of the brain
The oldest sense calls home. Maybe brimstone
Is the fragrance of hell and of heaven too.
I spent nights with this girl darker and deeper
Than scrub woods around the plant’s “keep out” signs,
Brick buildings and fusty industrial ambitions.
Maybe I was infiltrated. Maybe I was compromised
In ways I couldn’t begin to imagine, shrugging
Off her calls after the breakup, the phones
Echoing in each cavernous room as I paced
My rounds. Maybe hell had shifts and clocks with keys
You turned that made marks in a roll of paper
So they’d know where and when. Maybe guilt,
Which the Sanhedrin claimed the messiah would sniff out
With the awe of God, made my sinking hat brim,
My seven bucks an hour, feel almost deserved.
Sometimes I’d cheat, set my own cheap alarm
To jolt me out of my chair from a dead doze
So I could somnambulate among the loading bays.
Once in a dream I saw something move
In the trees, surged out from my shack to find
This girl offering me my forgotten lunch pail
Over the fence. When I woke I was alone
Once more, famished, haunting the infernal corridors.
Even now as I bite into my durian I’m watching
Her walk away through the links. I’m unarmed
And wear no uniform, no chintzy badge,
Though I write this down almost as duty,
Knowing at last what I’m here to defend.

                                                             —David Moolten

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