Thursday, January 3, 2013

Charles Baxter, poet

If you know Baxter's novels--First Light, The Soul Thief, Saul and Patsy, Shadow Play--or his short stories--recently collected in Gryphon--you know that he is one of the surest craftsmen around.  He excels, in particular, in evoking the inner lives of ordinary people.  Baxter is also a poet, with three books to his credit--Chameleon (1974) and The South Dakota Guidebook (1970) [I'm still looking for an affordable copy of this book.]  Here's a poem from Imaginary Paintings, published in 1989:

Blind Boy Climbing a Watertower

The day smells like a rusty iron leaf.
Wind vibrates the watertower
until it is a giant's doublebass
whose only note says, "Climb,"
a word sworn in secret to the boy,
not to his brothers, who are dull
because they work all day, because they see.

Barefoot, to feel the ladder's rungs
nestle warmly against his calloused heels,
he lifts himself, hand over spider hand,
above his father's unimaginary farm
where his brothers spread cow manure,
check their watches, wait for lunch,
and hand down clothes sleepily to him.

He has heard of clouds: like giants
they are imaginary and as remote
as spectral rainbows.  He listens
for the cars that speed like sound
down the highway half a mile away.
The boy thinks about their girls.
He is sixteen and goes nowhere without a comb.

Charles Baxter

1 comment:

  1. Thank you so much for your reading articles!!! I'm discovering great literature! Our taste matches perfectly.