Posts Tagged ‘Roy Bird’

The View from Mattie’s Pillow

August 28, 2009

We’re into late summer weather here. Early fall, really. On the willows growing out of the side of the bank and along the roads and riverbanks, there are starting to be a few yellow leaves like bright commas among the dusty green.

Overhead, the sandhill cranes flock and circle, their wide-stretched wingspan, long necks, stick legs behind. Today, I walked to campus from the parking lot and a V of geese straggled overhead. They called to each other with that slightly desperate, questioning call they have, as if they are always lost: “Which way? I thought you knew? Now what?” The cranes sound like they are having more fun. They gargle out their call as if the air were delicious to them. I watched a group of them yesterday, circling on an eddy of air, revving themselves up for the long flight to Brownsville, where they overwinter in the fields and the Laguna Atascosa wildlife refuge. There were young ones among the flock and they seemed to be teasing each other, brushing wingtips and rolling away, then righting themselves and doing it all over again.

A friend once told me that when cranes fly over, it’s good luck. We’re out standing under cranes as much as we can right now, storing all the luck we can.

And we sure do seem to need it. I’m still reeling from the loss of my friend, mentor, and colleague, Roy Bird. And then there’s Teddy Kennedy, whose life in politics has been an ongoing presence in the political consciousness of a whole generation. And then there’s the rain, the cold, and, the true mark of the coming of fall in the Interior, dark nights. We mark the end of summer with the sighting of the first star. It usually coincides with first frost.

We’ve avoided frost here in the hills, but some friends have lost their gardens already. I still have red and green romaine, purple and orange carrots, cauliflower, zucchini, crookneck squash, broccoli, kale, potatoes, and, in the greenhouse coming ripe just in time, luscious Chianti Rose tomatoes.

A couple of years ago, I wrote a poem after a walk in Creamers’ Field among cranes, called, “We Tempt Our Luck”—the cranes, the first hint of winter chill, and the boy in the poem who was writing to save his luck all wove into the poem. It’s now the title poem of a chapbook of poems that is just out from Astounding Beauty Ruffian Press, in Virginia (see Writing Links for their website). Now, I’m thinking about how much hope it’s possible to have, cranes or no cranes—then thinking of Teddy, who was a committed optimist, or he wouldn’t have reached out to as many people or crossed as many party lines as he did. I’ll dedicate some of my back-to-school energy this fall to his memory and to Roy, who reminds me to speak truth to power and to do it from my most genuine self.

Yesterday, speaking of hope, I went out on the deck as the light was beginning to turn that watery gray it gets when it’s about to pour rain or when it’s serious that night will come soon. I could see an orange tinge to the sky, flat with clouds. Somewhere behind me the north-west setting sun skipped over the northern curve of the earth and shot a ray into the rusty gray sky, arcing a perfect rainbow across the sky. Because of the orange tint in the clouds, the blues and greens were tough to pick out. But the reds, yellows, oranges glowed. A strange beauty, after much gloomy rain.

Today, a scrubbed blue sky. And the cranes.

Poetry Challenge 27

August 18, 2009

Bigger on the Inside than on the Outside

In the series Dr. Who, the Tardis, basically an old fashioned phone booth, contains all The Doctor needs for space travel, and is bigger on the inside than on the outside.  I’ve been thinking of this phenomenon with the death of a friend, Roy Bird, who was large on the outside, but whose heart, mind, and spirit were far larger–truly bigger on the inside!   And today, a friend, a talented teacher, expressed a sense of dread at the coming semester–something her students will never guess.  And think of all those seeds we planted in the spring–now huge zucchini or tomato plants–they must have been bigger on the inside.

So what else is bigger on the inside than on the outside?  What “stuff”–objects, gestures, sounds, smells, colors, textures, etc. indicate this?   Post your poem or reflections as a comment, and I’ll add it to this post.


Here’s a poem from Fiddlesticks the Defenestrator:

I loose the chickens from their coop,
They scamper hither and yon.
Strutting up and down the yard,
To welcome back the dawn.

A little boy comes running
Chasing chickens to and fro.
Youthful energy knows no bounds
Till children start to grow.

The energy inside this boy
Is more than one expects.
He’s everywhere at once
Much like flying winged insects.

His older sister sits nearby;
She’s six–a two-year gap.
She sits quite still as one small chick
Climbs up into her lap.

A heart that couldn’t ever seem
To fit in one small child
Guides the hand to stroke the head
Of the chicken, sitting, mild.

A boy and girl who couldn’t stand
Much over three feet tall,
With insides greater than one could see
If he’s paying attention at all.


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