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This is Something Simple
by Emily Hiestand

This is something simple--tangerine peels
shredded on the counter like rocking saucers
with butter-white insides and bits of string.
But for some peculiar reason the skins
remind me of Handel speaking of his Messiah:
"I did think I did see all Heaven before me."
These peels are the shavings of Heaven,
certainly not the orchard agape with music
of spherical fruits, but still, real relics,
fragrant and recently of the Garden.
I stare at them hard, up close, as though my eye
were to a keyhole. What could Handel have seen?

Perhaps what Dante saw in the blinding vision
of Paradise--light unfolding unto light--
and the one millisecond, as we might say,
of Pure Illumination. Or perhaps something
vast and geographical like the landscapes
of Frederick Church--a spectacle
of chasms and plateaus, and always a river,
a shining serpentine leading to... My God,
even the needles on the promontory pines
are absolutely realistic, with flecks
of sunset on each tip. You have to admit
there is something appealing about a gigantic vision.

But sooner or later, the visions all go
to something so brilliant it can't be described, save
as blinding light in hyperbole after hyperbole--
with cymbals, shrieks and releases of doves.
And another thing--after the leavens of truth,
mystery remains, much the same as the anecdote
of the trolley and the village clock,
supposed to explain relativity, but itself
so mysterious as to require explanation.

Myself, I look at these peels and work from there.
Say these fruits and the television, the Rockies,
Hiroshima and Easter eggs and Orion,
and Peter finding arrowheads at the lake,
whooping at the luck of each sharp blue edge,
which he could hold in his hand easily
as lunch money--say all of it could be connected
by me or a greater mind--there, you'd have it!
These are pleasing skins. What nice, ruddy color.
Now they'll go in the compost, then to the garden,
and tomatoes will grow next year if the Spring isn't wet.

--first published in The Hudson Review

Emily Hiestand is a writer, visual artist, and the literary and poetry editor of Orion. Her books are Green the Witch Hazel Wood, which received the National Poetry Series Award, The Very Rich Hours, and Angela the Upside Down Girl, And Other Domestic Travels, forthcoming in July 1998 from Beacon Press.

If you'd like to order these (and other) books, please visit The Orion Society Bookstore.

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