Today is the last day of November of a year I will be happy to see fade into memory. Also, woke this morning to a gorgeous moon golden over the horizon, the second full moon of the month, a blue moon.
But today’s selection has nothing to do with either of these. It’s a poetic retelling of how the Sandhill Crane got his red mask, by an Iñupiaq poet. Each year I go to Lodi to see these majestic birds–dust colored with a maroon swatch over the eyes. They make a cranky, creaking sound, like a rusty hinge, and are gorgeous in flight.
One spring, sandhill cranes flew into sight.
Having landed, they became hard to spot,
Their bodies and wings dirt brown,
The color of dead willow leaves.
That fall, the crane wife fed her husband
Cranberries. He balked. He made fun
Of the tiny morsel. That night, while he slept,
She dressed his eyes in red berry pulp.
Staining him for life.
by Marie Tozier
“The American Living Room: A Tract”
I am so lucky to be reading with the incomparable Jane Hirshfield this week, sponsored by Marin Poetry Canter and Osher Marin JCC. It’s free, and you can register here.
It’s going to be a back and forth conversation, and I am pretty sure Jane will start with this poem:
I came across this poem and thought it a good one to share with you, even though it references September. On the East Coast, September is very much like November here.
On a cold late
wider than sky-wide
discs of lit-shale clouds
skim the hills,
now and then fracturing
the long peripheries:
the crow flies
on course but destinationless,
the running light says,
while anything remains.
A. R. Ammons
Sometimes I see a poem and just want to translate it for myself. Maybe I don’t like the translation I see, maybe it hasn’t been translated, maybe it just seems a challenge. I can’t remember why I translated this, but it seemed a good poem for this tense week:
Es tan estrepitoso nuestro día,
Desgarrado por máquinas crueles,
Que el silencio recubre nuestra noche
Como si las alturas estelares
Nos consolaran de habitar la Tierra.
***** Continue reading “A small poem for a tense time” →