Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Corridors of Breath

I just said goodbye to five days of company--talkative company at that--and I have nothing left to say. In an effort to shame myself into writing more, generally, I am hereby attaching a poem from my once-upon-a-time master's thesis, which will blow my pseudonymity for the approximately six people still alive who have read said thesis, should they happen to be reading my blog and yet not know it's my blog. C'est la vie. This poem is based on a passage from Barry Lopez's Arctic Dreams, one of my all-time favorite books, and it is dedicated to him, and my friend Phil.

Corridors of Breath (Solveig at Tule Lake)

Solveig awakes in silence
the uneasy drift of wild grain and rice
the language she holds in her mouth
breaking down like a fine clay

One marsh hawk hangs for an instant
over the distant internment camp
It is an old story, like winter
like a boy gazing through wire
at the snow geese returning

And a knot of teal rises and churns
along the shoreline, the sound of wings
against wings, against air
They are not at home here
They are at home in motion

And now a chiaroscuro of the geese
against black water, their voices
incongruous, the sound of metal filings
But what does she know of birds?

There is a language she holds in her heart
spilling bead by bead into the blood
She is learning to read an alphabet
scrawled in willows under early snow

And the noisy punctuation of snow geese
in formation as they roll into a headwind
seamless movement bringing thousands
to the ground, gently, like falling leaves

For days she has been listening

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