The Fetishists

The Host

According to their need,/      this tall Negro evangelist/    (at a table separate from the/rest of his party):/these two young Irish nuns/                        (to be described subsequently);/and this white-       haired Angelican/ have come witlessly/    to partake of the host/         laid before them (and for me)/by the       tired waitress.

It is all/(         since       eat we    must)/most sacred by our common need./The evangelists assistants/are most open in their praise/though covert/as would be seemly/in such a public/place.  The nuns/                  are all black,a side view./  The cleric,/his head bowed to reveal/his unruly poll/dines alone.

My eyes are restless./    The evangelists eat well,/fried oysters and what-not/at this railway restaurant.  The Sisters/ are soon satisfied.  One/on leaving,/                       looking straight before her under steadfast brows,/reveals/                           blue eyes.  I myself/have brown eyes/and                                  a milder mouth.

There is nothing to eat,/seek it where you will,/but the body of the Lord./The blessed plants/         and             the            sea, yield it/to the      imagination/intact.        And by that force/    it becomes real,/bitterly/           to the poor animals/who suffer and die/that we may live.

The well-fed evangels,/the narrow-lipped and bright-eyed nuns,/                          the tall,/                   white-haired Anglican,/proclaim        it by their appetites/as do I also,/            chomping with my worn-out teeth:/the Lord                 is my shepherd/    I shall not want.

No matter how well they are fed,/how daintily/               they put the food to their lips,/      it is all             /   according to the imagination!/Only the imagination/      is real!  They have imagined it,                   /   therefore it is so:  /of the evangels,/with the long legs characteristic of the race-/only        the docile women/of the party smiled at me/when with my eyes/         I accosted them      .                           /The nuns-but after all/I saw only a face, a young face/cut off at the brows./It was a simple story./The cleric, plainly/from a good school,/interested me more,/a man with whom I might/carry on a conversation.

No one was there/save only                            for            /                       the food.  Which          I alone,/being                                                       a poet,/could have given them./But I                                       /had only my eyes with which to speak.

William Carlos Williams


2 thoughts on “The Fetishists

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