May 21, 2020KR OnlinePoetry

Pakim Pond, New Jersey

From The Kenyon Review, Summer 1954, Vol. XVI, No. 3.

The water of Pakim Pond is red.
From a distance, the sky’s in the pond
And the pond’s blue.
But scoop some in your hands.

The sky blue, the water red:
That would be loud, would be incongruous.
But no—
It has brown and a little blue in it like blood.

It is not cherry or flamingo or rust,
It is the wet darkness of blood
That stains
Always the bridal- and sometimes the death-bed.

One might imagine
That crocodiles had feasted, ferociously.
But not so,
For there are no crocodiles in New Jersey.

You might think that a drifting corpse
Had bumped against a rock, or even coral,
And been punctured
Like a gigantic blood vessel

But even that would not color a large pond.
(It is almost a small lake).
It would make
Only a brief floating island.

And it would be unlikely:
They would drag the floor and pull it up
(It would be missing).
They do not leave corpses around in New Jersey.

It is not foolish to conjecture like this,
Even if we know the origin of the color
To be the roots,
The roots, bleeding, of the shore trees.

But such an animal red!
Is it a miracle, or a sign?
Martyrs maybe,
Nailed to the rough-hewn bed.

A school of martyrs and saints,
Drowned like Patrick Spens under the sea . . .
But then, I don’t know—
Do they have saints in New Jersey?