Skunk summer

h1 August 8th, 2006 by eisha

So, the other night I came home kind of late, and as I was driving up to the apartment I saw a skunk, a SKUNK, run across the street in front of my car, from our landlord’s driveway to the neighbor’s yard.

Now, I had pretty much known that there were skunks living nearby – I’ve often caught an unmistakeable whiff on nights when I leave the windows open. But still, that was pretty brazen. I had to sit in the car for a few minutes to recover, because a.> I could have run over it, and how nasty would that be? and b.> maybe it, or its relatives, were still out there within spray range; and what if a sudden noise – like a car door shutting – would startle it/them into squirting me with nastiness? But fear not, Dear Reader, I made it inside without another sighting – although the neighbor’s cat did do a passable enough skunk-impersonation to nearly give me a heart attack as I slipped my key in the door.

To commemorate this funky little trauma, and in keeping with the general world-weariness and malaise that I’ve been suffering during the recent heat wave (I thought here in Yankee-ville I would never have to see a thermometer reach 100 again, but No!), I’d like to share one of my favorite poems with you: “Skunk Hour” by Robert Lowell.

It’s such a lonely, melancholy thing; such a perfect depiction of both a single, disturbed mind and a society in decline:

One dark night,
my Tudor Ford climbed the hill’s skull,
I watched for love-cars. Lights turned down,
they lay together, hull to hull,
where the graveyard shelves on the town. . . .
My mind’s not right.

A car radio bleats,
‘Love, O careless Love . . . .’ I hear
my ill-spirit sob in each blood cell,
as if my hand were at its throat . . . .
I myself am hell,
nobody’s here–

only skunks, that search
in the moonlight for a bite to eat.

Click on the link above to get the whole poem, or click on our link to the Academy of American Poets under the “Seven Impossible Book Sites” list to the right to find more info on, and more poems by, the Late Great King of the Confessional Poets, Robert Lowell.

2 comments to “Skunk summer”

  1. You should also check out the middle grade novel Summer of the Skunks by Tennessee’s own Wilmoth Foreman.

    – Alan

  2. […] like this, I gotta call in the big guns. Plath? No, did that already. Lowell? Nope, him too. Sexton? Meh. […]

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