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.”