apartment complex in Chicago, how about that. There is a rough sketch of him in
the security office by an elevator I take, but I can't see any other note of this place
being his namesake.
Anyhow, this is a longer one, I guess. But Sandburg's phrasing is always evocative
of bodies and primal things, so reading him moves quickly. His sense of balance
with these paired "A & B," "sniff and guess" moments is great. I feel like he had a
slim secret dictionary full of power words when he wrote. Check out "The Mob,"
too, if you like this one.
* * *
There is a wolf in me … fangs pointed for tearing gashes … a red
tongue for raw meat … and the hot lapping of blood—I keep this
wolf because the wilderness gave it to me and the wilderness will
not let it go.
There is a fox in me … a silver-gray fox … I sniff and guess … I
pick things out of the wind and air … I nose in the dark night and
take sleepers and eat them and hide the feathers … I circle and
loop and double-cross.
There is a hog in me … a snout and a belly … a machinery for
eating and grunting … a machinery for sleeping satisfied in the
sun—I got this too from the wilderness and the wilderness will
not let it go.
There is a fish in me … I know I came from saltblue water-gates
… I scurried with shoals of herring … I blew waterspouts with
porpoises … before land was … before the water went down …
before Noah … before the first chapter of Genesis.
There is a baboon in me … clambering-clawed … dog-faced …
yawping a galoot’s hunger … hairy under the armpits … here
are the hawk-eyed hankering men … here are the blond and
blue-eyed women … here they hide curled asleep waiting …
ready to snarl and kill … ready to sing and give milk … waiting
—I keep the baboon because the wilderness says so.
There is an eagle in me and a mockingbird … and the eagle
flies among the Rocky Mountains of my dreams and fights
among the Sierra crags of what I want … and the mockingbird
warbles in the early forenoon before the dew is gone, warbles
in the underbrush of my Chattanoogas of hope, gushes over the
blue Ozark foothills of my wishes—And I got the eagle and the
mockingbird from the wilderness.
O, I got a zoo, I got a menagerie, inside my ribs, under my bony
head, under my red-valve heart—and I got something else: it is a
man-child heart, a woman-child heart: it is a father and mother
and lover: it came from God-Knows-Where: it is going to
God-Knows-Where—For I am the keeper of the zoo: I say yes and
no: I sing and kill and work: I am a pal of the world: I came from