I'm a riddle in nine syllables,
An elephant, a ponderous house,
A melon strolling on two tendrils.
O red fruit, ivory, fine timbers!
This loaf's big with its yeasty rising.
Money's new-minted in this fat purse.
I'm a means, a stage, a cow in calf.
I've eaten a bag of green apples,
Boarded the train there's no getting off.
Now I am a lake. A woman bends over me,
Searching my reaches for what she really is.
Then she turns to those liars, the candles or the moon.
I see her back, and reflect it faithfully.
She rewards me with tears and an agitation of hands.
I am important to her. She comes and goes.
Each morning it is her face that replaces the darkness.
In me she has drowned a young girl, and in me an old woman
Rises toward her day after day, like a terrible fish.
In the same way
He kept the sow -- impounded from public stare,
Prize ribbon and pig show.
But one dusk our questions commended us to a tour
Through his lantern-lit
Maze of barns to the lintel of the sunk sty door
To gape at it:
This was no rose-and-larkspurred china suckling
With a penny slot
For thrifty children, nor dolt pig ripe for heckling,
About to be
Glorified for prime flesh and golden crackling
In a parsley halo;
Nor even one of the common barnyard sows,
Maunching thistle and knotweed on her snout-cruise --
Bloat tun of milk
On the move, hedged by a litter of feat-foot ninnies
Shrilling her hulk
To halt for a swig at the pink teats. No. This vast
Of a sow lounged belly-bedded on that black compost,
Dream-filmed. What a vision of ancient hoghood must
Thus wholly engross
The great grandam! -- our marvel blazoned a knight,
Helmed, in cuirass,
Unhorsed and shredded in the grove of combat
By a grisly-bristled
Boar, fabulous enough to straddle that sow's heat.
But our farmer whistled,
Then, with a jocular fist thwacked the barrel nape,
And the green-copse-castled
Pig hove, letting legend like dried mud drop,
On grunt, up in the flickering light to shape
Prodigious in gluttonies as that hog whose want
Made lean Lent
Of kitchen slops and, stomaching no constraint,
Proceeded to swill
The seven troughed seas and every earthquaking continent.