“Evolution of the Host”—A New Poem by Robert Pinsky

“Evolution of the Host”—A New Poem by Robert Pinsky

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The primate that for a time rose to dominate that planet
Communicated with its peers using a code of grunts
Exhaled from the orifice of ingestion and shaped
By lips and inner membranes, muscles and teeth.
The creature communicated also with its descendants,
With memorized patterns of those same brute sounds made
Eloquent and urgent as the dance of a worker bee
Miming the precise distance and bearings of sustenance.
In the language of sustenance and honey, host and guest

Are two pronunciations of a single word: primeval guttural
Khoust: meaning sacred obligations and ceremonies between
A stranger who accepts bread and a stranger who gives it.
Or before the sacred obligations and ceremonies, the host
Was the enemy, the khoust of savages, barbarians, gentiles
Arrayed for battle against me. O Lord break their jaws kill
Their spawn. My enemy rises from the dead as a ghost:
The ghastly third, the other, the khoust intervening between
My hunger and the transforming sweet breast of the world.


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