A mouthful of language to swallow:
stretches of beach, sweet clinches,
breaches in walls, pleached branches;
britches hauled over haunches;
hunched leeches, wrenched teachers.
What English can do: ransack
the warmth that chuckles beneath
fuzzed surfaces, sweet velvet
richness, plashy juices.
I beseech you, peach,
clench me in the sweetness
of your reaches.
I chanced upon this poem quite some time back, and immediately thought of keeping it for this ‘project’ which has been in incubation (and procrastinations for far, far too long). This beautifully crafted poem is as much about peaches, as it is about the sheer delights the poet takes in language.
Just as a peach is a mouthful to bite into, so it is with the word ‘peaches’. The poet then engages in a verbal play with words. Clearly, the almost arbitrary list of words and phrases that follows is like the savouring of the rich sweetness of a peach, enjoying the oozing ‘juices’ of language in the mouth – its sounds and its sensuous suggestiveness created through internal rhymes in the assonance of the sounds ‘ee’, ‘each’, ‘unch’ and the alliterative ‘h’, ‘b’. The ‘tightness’ in the mouthful of language to swallow is suggested in the lines about the pulling up of one’s britches up to the waist.
Next, the “hunched leeches” connotes the sucking of the blood of language (not negative), just as ‘wrenched teachers” struggle over the mastery of language. Indeed, the freshness of this poem masks the painstaking craft behind it: in tying or plaiting up the “pleached branches” of words. At the end, as one savours the art and language of this poem, it ends off in the last three lines in pure ecstatic pleasure. As a last note, I will just add that these lines may perhaps be suggestive of the ‘o’ word, which I shall leave to your imagination.
(the wonderfully irrepressible Sharon will be up next week :)