Thursday, July 23, 2009

The Nebraska Connection

So Jim Harrison has been doing promotion for his new book of poems In Search of Small Gods and I was listening to him and wondering if he has had a stroke. His speech seems slightly off kilter somehow.

(I am interested intensely in the course of strokes right at this moment because my partner in poetic crime here on Meander, Andrew, has had a moderate stroke himself recently.)

So off I went looking for some mention of that and instead I came up with this delightful and interesting review by Jim Harrison of Karl Shapiro’s book.

When I was reading the review I kept thinking the work of Shapiro’s that Harrison quotes sounds so much like the work of my cousin Bobby.

Having spaced out for a moment that the two wrote a still read Prosody handbook. Duh.

It is interesting to me that their work does sound so much alike. I don’t think Andrew’s and my work sounds alike at all, even though we do often use similar source material from Buddhist texts.

Harrison writes a great deal about birds and with my current bird obsession how can one not admire his? Of course he has been known to shoot them, unlike me.

I don’t know if I’ll ever get to Nebraska, but who knows… I may go birding there someday and run into Karl Shapiro’s unhappy ghost.

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Saturday, July 04, 2009

Hiding In Beauty

A couple of migrant Blue-winged Teal ride high in the marsh, hanging out with Shovelers, Wood Ducks, from crisp black and white to ruddy, broad beaks, sharp red eyes, swept back crests, she likes the goofy plump Buffleheads best.

Middle-aged women do. She hunches in the rented hunting blind, camera heavy, long lens fully extended. She thinks only a man would design optics this way. She is hiding. Not from the waterfowl, more from the prospect of the rest of her life—perceived strife, the downward curve of it all.

Hope is such a fleeting thing, flash of iridescence glimpsed unexpectedly when one is distracted, then finds oneself spending a ridiculous amount of time scanning the breadth of the watercourse to find it again.

Too big for a Hummingbird, too far north for some exotic tropical number, her brain clamps down on the details. Blue again like the travelers in front of her but black and white as well. And red, in a field of buff breast, he’s singing a siesta song.

Then in the far meadow, in dry grass amid tiny lavender wildflowers she sees bright lapis, shinny as the extravagant necklace he gave her early in their love, precious thing. Lazuli Bunting comes to call. Her heart leaps but he is too far away for this lens today.

Breathless she wants to hold this brilliant moment to her chest, keep it warm, safe. Instead he flies away. She grips the camera body against her dominant eye, almost until it hurts, sighs and lets it drop, strap taut against her wrinkled neck.

She hears the small flock conversing in the abandoned orchard trees and field—stretches her legs in front of her and raises her shoulders to release tension, waits expectantly for what the wetlands might yet yield.