The Loaf

Paul Muldoon

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When I put my finger to the hole they’ve cut for a dimmer switch

in a wall of plaster stiffened with horsehair

it seems I’ve scratched a two-hundred-year-old itch

 

with a pink and a pink and a pinkie-pick.

 

When I put my ear to the hole I’m suddenly aware

of spades and shovels turning up the gain

all the way from Raritan to the Delaware

 

with a clink and a clink and a clinky-click.

 

When I put my nose to the hole I smell the floodplain

of the canal after a hurricane

and the spots of green grass where thousands of Irish have lain

 

with a stink and a stink and a stinky-stick.

 

When I put my eye to the hole I see one holding horse dung to the rain

in the hope, indeed, indeed,

of washing out a few whole ears of grain

 

with a wink and a wink and a winkie-wick.

 

And when I do at last succeed

in putting my mouth to the horsehair-fringed niche

I can taste the small loaf of bread he baked from that whole seed

 

with a link and a link and a linky-lick.

“The Loaf” from MOY SAND AND GRAVEL by Paul Muldoon. Copyright © 2002 by Paul Muldoon. Reprinted by permission of Farrar, Straus & Giroux, LLC.

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