Green Mountain Idyll

Hayden Carruth (1921-2008)

Honey    I’d split your kindling

clean & bright

& fine

if you was mine

baby baby

I’d taken to you like my silky hen

my bluetick bitch my sooey sow

my chipmunk    my finchbird

& my woodmouse

if you was living at my house

I’d mulch your strawberries & cultivate

your potato patch

all summer long

& then in winter

come thirty below and the steel-busting weather

I’d tune your distributor & adjust

your carburetor

if me & you was together

be it sunshine be it gloom

summer or the mean mud season

honey I’d kiss you

every morningtime

& evenings I’d hurry

to get shut of the barn chores early

& then in the dark of the night

I’d stand at the top of the stairs & hold the light

for you for you

if you’d sleep in my room

& when old crazy come down the mountain after you

with his big white pecker in his hand

you would only holler

& from the sugar house

the mow    the stable

or wherever I’m at

I’d come    god I’d come running to you

like a turpentined cat

only in our bed


no hurting

but like as if it was

git- music

or new-baked bread

I’d fuck so easy

sweet-talking & full of love

if you was just my daisy

& my dove

* * *

English Department professor Meredith Martin writes:

I was startled to hear that Carruth passed away in September. Like Jack Gilbert, he is one of those 20th century poets who I had just begun to believe was really immortal. And he is immortal,  or at least I hope our critical attention to him will make him so. This poem is one of my favorite love poems — I love how it lurches  from image to image betraying how through all these tasks, this man wants to be doing something with his beloved and the tasks themselves transform into a kind of lovemaking. I don’t doubt the character — I never do, in Carruth’s poems — and though I’m not sure his lover is someone I could love, I find this poem teaches me to listen about the ways people perform affection and makes me think about how knowing that might be important.