The Lute in the Attic

The Lute in the Attic
by Kenneth Patchen

As this comes in
Call you
I call you
The apples are red again in Chandler’s Valley
redder for what happened there
And the ducks move like flocculent clocks
round and round, and round
The seven fat ducks whose mouths
were wet crimson once
O William Brewster Hollins
I call you back!
Come you and stand here
By the fog-blunted house that is silent now
And watch these terrible ducks moving
slowly round the rock of Santa Maura.
Your father’s gone daft, Willy.
Did you know that?
And Isalina’s flaxen hair is the color of the mud
at the bottom of Rathbeggin Creek.
Her teeth are crooked and yellow,
more like an old, sickly dog’s
than a woman’s—but her eyes
still hold their light, people say.
(Though for me it’s a very strange light, Willy.
I remember I saw a different thing there
a few hours before it happened—
and the two of you lying naked together
under the apple trees.
For myself, to be truthful, her eyes have changed.
They are not at all as they were then.)

In this poor unease your father
Has come to love rather fearful things.
”Don’t hurt my spider-ladies!” he screams
When Beth or Danny go in to clean around him.
It would be better if he dies, the town whispers.

Sam Hanner drowned two summers ago.
Old Krairly wanted to carve
’Lived on strong drink, but his last was weak’
On the stone—the Fathers said no, of course.
There was talk that Sam watched you do it.
Did you know that?

As this comes in
and so much hate will go anywhere
I call you back
To lie here in the rain and the dark beside the willows
Hearing the voices of lovers under the flowery hedge
O Williams Brewster Hollins
I call you back!
Come you and lie here at the side of your brother…
I can tell you exactly how many times
these seven lean ducks have gone
fiercely round the rock of Santa Maura—
And show you worse things than your father sees
And show you all the things far worse than your father sees, Willy.



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