back toJacket2

George Wallace

Purple Eggplants in the Rain

for Stanley Kunitz, 1905–2006

an old man with no hat and a cane in his hand is standing in the tottering rain thinking about something that a poet he once knew wrote about the dingiest bird he ever saw, the absolute dingiest! and he is thinking about a river in southern connecticut with no end to it where he lived as a child with his mother and how the black soiled banks of that river were as near to perfect for growing eggplants as soil can get but now it is new york city and he is waiting for the bus uptown, the uptown bus doesn’t stop here or maybe it is only that it is the wrong hour and he continues to stand there anyhow with the rain pouring down onto his scalp and his white white hair is pouring into his ears and his head is filling up with poetry and rain and even his valise is filling up with rain — so much rain it spills into and out of his head, so much rain it spills from the top of the valise and it pools up in his tennis shoes and the women pass by and the men pass by and everyone is carrying shopping bags and umbrellas and their shoulders are wet and yes, the pavement glistens and the taxicabs sneak past and he is happy with everything he sees in life because it is life, it is still life after all, he is not dead yet it is good to be standing in the rain with no hat on even if he has to use a cane, and a bus comes and the bus doors open and the bus doors close and it is not his bus again and he remembers something thoreau wrote about rivers how they take everything with them how they leave everything behind — maybe it wasn’t thoreau does that really matter? — and the blood and fur of centuries goes past and a woman goes past one woman in particular he admires her the way she walks the way she dresses she is wearing a fur-lined overcoat which comes all the way down to her ankles she is wearing rubber galoshes and he wants to scoop her up just scoop her up and take her away only because he likes the squeaking noise she makes when she walks past, the kind of noise you might make if you were to take the palm of your hand if you were to stroke the smooth purple skin of an eggplant in the rain

July 2006  |  Jacket 30  Contents  |  Homepage  |  Catalog  |  Search  |
about Jacket | style guide | bookstores | literary links | 400 book reviews |