The Loaf

By Paul Muldoon b. 1951 Paul Muldoon
When I put my finger to the hole they've cut for a dimmer switch   
in a wall of plaster stiffened with horsehair   
it seems I've scratched a two-hundred-year-old itch   


with a pink and a pink and a pinkie-pick.


When I put my ear to the hole I'm suddenly aware   
of spades and shovels turning up the gain   
all the way from Raritan to the Delaware   


with a clink and a clink and a clinky-click.


When I put my nose to the hole I smell the floodplain   
of the canal after a hurricane   
and the spots of green grass where thousands of Irish have lain


with a stink and a stink and a stinky-stick.


When I put my eye to the hole I see one holding horse dung to the rain   
in the hope, indeed, indeed,   
of washing out a few whole ears of grain


with a wink and a wink and a winkie-wick.


And when I do at last succeed   
in putting my mouth to the horsehair-fringed niche   
I can taste the small loaf of bread he baked from that whole seed


with a link and a link and a linky-lick.

Source: Moy Sand and Gravel (2002)

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Poet Paul Muldoon b. 1951

POET’S REGION Ireland

 Paul  Muldoon

Biography

Paul Muldoon is one of Ireland's leading contemporary poets. He was born in Portadown, County Armagh and raised near The Moy, in Northern Ireland. Muldoon’s work is full of paradox: playful but serious, elusive but direct, innovative but traditional. He uses traditional verse forms such as the sonnet, ballad, and dramatic monologue, but alters their length and basic structure, and uses rhyme and meter in new ways. His work is . . .

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POET’S REGION Ireland

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Originally appeared in Poetry magazine.

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