Saturday, January 31, 2009

waxwing blessings.

a waxwing reaching for an ash berry, belgravia, edmonton, jan. 23/09

berry obtained by same bird, same place, same day.

New camera. Waxwings. That is really all. I love these birds. That is all. & no matter what I try to write about them, I cannot do justice to these creatures, & what it's like to stand with someone & watch two flocks of them, a skyful of thousands, merging like the unconscious arms of a spiral galaxy, their telepathic wingbeats. & their joy, of feeding & fluttering, voices like clear keening water. It stirs me so deeply, the blessing of witnessing this, that nothing I write seems to fit the scale of this, just like I can't fit their whole migration in a camera lens.
I know they will make their way into poems, sneak in to feed, leave a rain of metaphors like red berry-hail on the pavement. But I can't write about just the waxwings themselves. They just are.
Jason sent me this poem, A Rescue, by John Updike. I am fond:

Today I wrote some words that will see print.
Maybe they will last "forever," in that
someone will read them, their ink making
a light scratch on his mind, or hers.
I think back with greater satisfaction
upon a yellow bird--a goldfinch?--
that had flown into the garden shed
and could not get out,
battering its wings on the deceptive light
of the dusty, warped-shut window.

Without much reflection, for once, I stepped
to where its panicked heart
was making commotion, the flared wings drumming,
and with clumsy soft hands
pinned it against a pane,
held loosely cupped
this agitated essence of the air,
and through the open door released it,
like a self-flung ball,
to all that lovely perishing outdoors.

Friday, January 09, 2009

the flash of a hand

brushtailed grass at nearly sunset, december 28/08, in the river valley.


Jechaliśmy przed świtem po zamarzłych polach,
Czerwone skrzydło wstawało, jeszcze noc.

I zając przebiegł nagle tuż przed nami,
A jeden z nas pokazał go ręką.

To było dawno. Dzisiaj już nie żyją
Ni zając, ani ten co go wskazywał.

Miłości moja, gdzież są, dokąd idą
Błysk ręki, linia biegu, szelest grud --
Nie z żalu pytam, ale z zamyślenia.

* * *

And in English:

Czeslaw Milosz


We were riding through frozen fields in a wagon at dawn.
A red wing rose in the darkness.

And suddenly a hare ran across the road.
One of us pointed to it with his hand.

That was long ago. Today neither of them is alive,
Not the hare, nor the man who made the gesture.

O my love, where are they, where are they going
The flash of a hand, streak of movement, rustle of pebbles.
I ask not out of sorrow, but in wonder.

* * *

Sunrise as a red wing rising in the darkness = oh my. This whole poem, I want to recite it over & over. The last lines are so tender, especially in Polish, soft throat rustles in a language I half-understand. Winter ache.