Sunday, September 26, 2010

I'm Farting Like a Little Pig

Charles Bukowski, "gas," from The Flash of Lightning Behind the Mountain: New Poems (New York: HarperCollins, 2004), pp. 13-14:
my grandmother had a serious gas
we only saw her on Sunday.
she'd sit down to dinner
and she'd have gas.
she was very heavy,
80 years old.
wore this large glass brooch,
that's what you noticed most
in addition to the gas.
she'd let it go just as food was being served.
she'd let it go loud in bursts
spaced about a minute apart.
she'd let it go
4 or 5 times
as we reached for the potatoes
poured the gravy
cut into the meat.

nobody ever said anything;
especially me.
I was 6 years old.
only my grandmother spoke.
after 4 or 5 blasts
she would say in an offhand way,
"I will bury you all!"

I didn't much like that:
first farting
then saying that.

it happened every Sunday.
she was my father's mother.
every Sunday it was death and gas
and mashed potatoes and gravy
and that big glass brooch.

those Sunday dinners would
always end with apple pie and
ice cream
and a big argument
about something or other,
my grandmother finally running out the door
and taking the red train back to
the place stinking for an hour
and my father walking about
fanning a newspaper in the air and
saying, "it's all that damned sauerkraut
she eats!"
Jean-Jacques Rousseau, Confessions (tr. J.M. Cohen), Book II (on Madame de Vercellis):
She only kept her bed for the last two days, and continued to converse quietly with everyone to the last. Finally when she could no longer talk and was already in her death agony, she broke wind loudly. "Good," she said, turning over, "a woman who can fart is not dead." Those were the last words she spoke.
Albert Camus, Lyrical and Critical Essays (tr. Ellen Conroy Kennedy), essay Irony:
But people who play at being ill can succeed: the grandmother carried simulation to the point of death. On her last day, her children around her, she began freeing herself of the fermentations in her intestines. She turned and spoke with simplicity to her grandson: "You see," she said, "I'm farting like a little pig." She died an hour later.

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