Genie

Sep 13, 2019

Today's poem is "Genie" by Carl Little. He's the author of Ocean Drinker: New and Selected Poems (2006), as well as many books about art, including Paintings of Portland (2018), written with his brother David, and Philip Frey: Here and Now (2018). He lives on Mount Desert Island.

He writes: “My parents bought an abandoned chicken farm in Water Mill, New York, in 1954, the year I was born. The property, which included a pond, became my Eden. In that Eden were many trees, including a stand of pepperidge, which served as a place of sanctuary from familial conflict.” 

Genie 
by Carl Little

I loved the name, pepperidge, and that I 
knew the name. I also knew maple, ailanthus and 
the trees father planted—Northern Spy

with its verboten apples, shaggy-limbed 
cryptomeria—but the pepperidge 
stood apart, forming a retreat, perfectly 

natural space even if a narrow path 
had been cut through cat briar, 
spindly trees removed on the way 

to the perfect pond. I like to think
those pepperidge still stand, holding 
their corner of the land, unswayed   

by bittersweet, wild grape and other stranglers, 
my lurking place out of earshot of arguments,
trees overhead somehow elegant, raising limbs 

to the same sky I worshipped, so blue on late June days. 
I remember rubbing my hands against the bark 
as if the pepperidge could produce a genie, 

which they did: a breeze off the water
that carried the angry voices away,
that brought goose bumps to my skin.   

Poem copyright © 2018 by Carl Little.