4/20/12

Poem with one fact.


POEM WITH ONE FACT

By Donald Hall

“At pet stores in Detroit, you can buy
frozen rats
for seventy-five cents apiece, to feed
your pet boa constrictor”
back home in Grosse Pointe,
or in Grosse Pointe Park,


while the free nation of rats
in Detroit emerges
from alleys behind pet shops, from cellars
and junked cars and gathers
to flow at twilight
like a river the color of pavement,


and crawls over bedrooms and groceries
and through broken
school windows to eat the crayon
from drawings of rats—
and no one in Detroit understands
how rats are delicious in Dearborn.


If only we could communicate, if only
the boa constrictors of Southfield
would slither down I-94,
turn north on the Lodge Expressway,
and head for Eighth Street, to eat
out for a change. Instead, tomorrow,


a man from Birmingham enters
a pet shop in Detroit
to buy a frozen German shepherd
for six dollars and fifty cents
to feed his pet cheetah,
guarding the compound at home.


Oh, they arrive all day in their
Locked cars, buying
schoolyards, bridges, buses,
churches, and Ethnic Festivals;
they buy a frozen Texaco station
for eighty-four dollars and fifty cents


to feed to an imported London taxi
in Huntington Woods;
they buy Tiger Stadium,
frozen, to feed the little league
in Grosse Ile. They bring everything
home, frozen solid


as pig iron the six-car garages
of Harper Woods, Grosse Point Woods,
Farmington, Grosse Pointe
Farms, Troy and Grosse Arbor—
And they ingest
Everything and fall asleep and lie


coiled in the sun, while the city
thaws in the stomach and slides
in the small intestines where enzymes
break down molecules of protein
to amino acids, which enter
the cold bloodstream.

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