Wednesday, November 12, 2008

In the stories the Lotophagi sit under trees on a mysterious island and eat a fruit of forgetting, a fruit that leaves their visitors shore-bound and without a thought for returning home. Maybe Odysseus bundles them back on the ships and ties them to the floor and makes them go back anyway. Maybe. In Tennyson, certainly, the weary seafarers stick around to "live and lie reclined." And why not? The only thing waiting for them after they leave the land of the Lotos Eaters is a cyclops and a lot of going around in circles. Better to stay in the hollows and keep forgetting.

It could be that what they were eating, stretched long under the trees, was a kind of persimmon. Science and poets are still unclear on that point. Persimmon are the sort of fruit best eaten gently rotting, because when they are firm and ripe they are also bitter and astringent. I remember that there was a persimmon tree in your yard a lifetime ago, and one afternoon we pulled the old couch outside and under the limbs, lounging there for hours drinking vintage bourbon and waiting languidly for the afternoon rains. Each bite of fruit numbed our tongues and kissing in those seconds tasted like nothing at all, not even ourselves.

Sometimes when this lifetime's cooler rains roll in I think about that warm day in the hollows, the sound of cicadas rising on all sides, the soft thumps of ripe citrus dropping from the trees, the clink of ice in our glasses, the worn upholstery itchy on my skin. The warm drops that soon flooded over our skin, and the light kisses that tasted only of forgetting.

No comments: