Milton Acorn and the Jack Pine
I met Milton Acorn in the photocopying room of the university in which I taught. I didn’t know who he was, but I soon found out.
“Oy! You,” he waved his strong, carpenter’s hands, and stabbed me with a gnarled index finger.
“Are you Milton Acorn,” I asked. “The poet?”
“Yup. Make this machine work.”
“I’m meant to be taking you to lunch.”
“Got this job to do first,” he pointed at the machine. “Turn it on.”
I typed in my code and the copier leapt into life.
“Now go away. I need to be alone.”
A few minutes later, I returned to find him lying on the photocopier, eyes shut, face pressed against the glass. Lights flashed, the copier whirred, and a copy of his face emerged. He descended from the machine and added his face to the pile of photocopies that lay at his feet.
“Tape,” he said. “I need tape,” he again stabbed me with his finger and held out his hand.
“I’ll go and get some.”
I went to my secretary’s office.
“What the heck is he doing in there?” she asked.
“I haven’t got a clue. But now he wants some Scotch tape,” I held out my hand and she handed me a roll of tape “Thanks,” I said.
I gave Milton the tape and watched as he taped the copies together. He had photocopied his whole body, arms, legs, back sides, feet.
“Me,” he said happily. “That’s me,”
Triumphant, he showed me his work: a self-portrait, shadowy and cloudy, still warm, with him all whiskered and worn, smelling still of photocopying ink, unique, unmistakable, uncouth, unseemly, but the real Milton Acorn, a jack pine sonnet self-grown in his own poetic image.