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The Rat Of Faith Analysis

Author: Poetry of Philip Levine Type: Poetry Views: 149

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A Walk with Tom Jefferson1988A blue jay poses on a stakemeant to support an apple treenewly planted. A strong windon this clear cold morningbarely ruffles his tail feathers.When he turns his attentiontoward me, I face his eyeswithout blinking. A week agomy wife called me to come seethis same bird chase a ratinto the thick leavesof an orange tree. We came asclose as we could and watchedthe rat dig his way into an orange,claws working meticulously.Then he feasted, face deepinto the meal, and afterwardswashed himself in juice, pawsscrubbing soberly. Surprisedby the whiteness of the belly,how open it was and vulnerable,I suggested I fetch my .22.She said, "Do you want to kill him?"I didn't. There are orangesenough for him, the jays, and us,across the fence in the yardnext door oranges rottingon the ground. There is powerin the name rat, a horrorthat may be private. When Iwas a boy and heir to talesof savagery, of sleeping menand kids eaten half away beforethey could wake, I came to knowthat horror. I was afraidthat left alive the animalwould invade my sleep, grownimmense now and powerfulwith the need to eat flesh.I was wrong. Night after nightI wake from dreams of a citylike no other, the bright cityof beauty I thought I'd lostwhen I lost my faith that one daywe would come into our lives.The wind gusts and calmsshaking this miniature buddingapple tree that in three monthshas taken to the hard clayof our front yard. In one hopthe jay turns his back on me,dips as though about to drinkthe air itself, and flies.


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