—a film by Robert Bresson; 1966
The Donkey’s Treatise
That my welts could be abstracted was the first offense.
Come down into the pen, one owner whispered, to the signature of the whip—
as if form & content were not inter-
dependent. Or the egg
goiter that rose, like a closed eye, between my lower right ribs where
another one had kicked,
as if punting a pumpkin
through the French country light. Frame by frame, the triumphs
of my sufferings—a parable of purity, a messianic lesson
in transcendence, some said: my noble acceptance of cruel motivations beyond
my comprehension . . .
But to walk along in front of death, blood-
oranges & eyelid figs
in crates on my back; no hands; no music
but squeaking harness straps that dug in me a trench like a trench
I watched one of the bastards pour entrails in, hoping they’d make the sea—
how my dreaming, to them, would’ve been
just a boy’s kite flying over
a kill-site, not knowing what it’s seen. So much pink.
Notes: “but to walk along in front of death, no hands, no music” is taken from Twain’s Personal Recollections of Joan of Arc.
“as if form and content were not interdependent is borrowed from Justin Kishbaugh.”