Fungal Poems: Pourriture Noble BY MARIE PONSOT
By GAtherton

Never prophesy.

You can’t. So don’t try.

Lust, pride, and lethargy

may cause us misery

or bliss.

The meanest mistake

has a point to make.

Hear this —

what his vintner d’Eyquem said

once the lord d’Eyquem was dead:

         “The wine that year promised bad or none.

          He’d let it go too late.

          Rot had crawled through all the vines,

          greasy scum on every cluster

          dangling at the crotches of the leaves.

          Should have been long picked

          but he’d said, ‘No. Wait for me,’

          off to wait on a new woman,

          grapes on the verge of ripe

          when he left. Coupling kept him

          till rot wrapped the grapes like lace

          & by the time she’d kicked him out

          the sun had got them, they hung

          shriveled in the blast. 

          Well, he rode home cocky

          & bullied the grapes into the vats

          rot & all, spoiled grapes, too old,

          too soon squeezed dry.

                                                     The wine makes.

          The wine makes thick, gold-colored,

          & pours like honey.

          We try it. Fantastic! 

         not like honey, punchy,

         you’ve never drunk anything like it —

         refreshing, in a rush

         over a heat that slows your throat —

         wanting to keep that flavor

         stuck to the edge of your tongue

         where your taste is, keep it

         like the best bouquet you can remember

         of sundown summer & someone coming

         to you smiling. The taste has odor

         like a new country, so fine

         at first you can’t take it in

         it’s so strange. It’s beautiful

         & believe me you love to go slow.” 


Age is not

all dry rot.

It’s never too late.

Sweet is your real estate.

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From Springing: New and Selected Poems by Marie Ponsot, copyright © 2002 by Marie Ponsot. Used by permission of Alfred A. Knopf, a division of Random House, Inc. Any third party use of this material, outside of this publication, is prohibited. Interested parties must apply directly to Random House, Inc. for permission.

Source: Poetry (May 2013).

From the Poetry Foundation