POEMS OF THIS NEW YEAR

One never knows, withe the Poetry Muse — when she’s going to be with you; when she’s in elusive mode.  And sometimes, when she’s taken herself far, far away — and you begin to be certain she will never return.

Despite all worldly, chaos, the Poetry Muse has been intensively present lately.

I’ll share a few new ones with NJWILDBEAUTY readers — for whatever is wild in these words, and whatever beauty they may convey, they definitely unfurled in New Jersey.  No one has heard them, nor seen them, but you.  May they generate voyages…

 

In this tumultuous time of America’s turning its official back on people of other nations, I find this one written on last year’s Summer’s Solstice, startling, even prescient…

 

“WHOSE SIDE ARE YOU ON, ANYWAY?!”

 

in the fluttery darkness

of childhood Westerns

my sister and I were always

set apart

hugging to ourselves

our terrible secret –

 

as Indians spilled over

the crest of any hill

each of us silently

rejoiced

 

longing

to ride off into sunsets

with our true brothers

 

***

 

Mary Oliver is my forever catalyst.  Once, in Princeton Hospital for hip replacement (so I could get back OUT on those TRAILS!) I took only Mary’s collected poems for post-op, then rehab reading.  Many of my own were triggered by her electrifying consciousness and attentiveness, to say nothing of always stunning excellence.  Recently, I suffused myself anew with Mary.  Her very personal interaction with bears brought this into being:

 

INSIDE                                 after reading Mary Oliver on Bears…

 

you live within my being at all times

your paws curling my own hands

strong feet propelling my too-slender ones

 

our legs

go on forever

 

your heart

the larger

 

you know

absolutely everywhere

where you are going

 

such large eyes do not fit

within my small ones

 

there is scarcely room

for your fine head

–emperor’s on coin

 

ah, but our wondrous grin

that remains

identical

 

***

 

I never know where the Muse wants us to be.  Two recent poems demanded mental transport to Hawaii:

 

HANA YEARNING

 

I see us along Hana’s highway

–you at the wheel I last wielded alone

curving from waterfall to waterfall

 

their long thin threads

like spider floss

or glycerine spun out

by some Hawaiian deity

we can feel, not see

 

plunging in virginal straightness

into alluring dark pools

mist captured in tropical branchings

of ginger, plumeria, ti

 

one-handed at the wheel

you’re laughing at this ceaselessness of curves

and so many misleading one-way signs

 

we dip into inky ponds

up to and over our necks

laughingly dwarfed

by towering verdant damp ferns

 

you reach both hands

to guide me out of each fall’s sacred water

leaving double footprints

on black sand

 

***

 

…or, what time-frame the Muse may require.  This goes back to early childhood, visiting my favorite uncle (actually, my favorite person — rarely equaled), Donald E. Graham, my Uncle Dutch.  He had been an ambulance driver in World War I, because he would not kill.  One time, the sergeant ordered him to steal a horse.  My very honest uncle was devastated, as he obeyed.  Picture that weathered flag from something like 1918…

 

PATRIOTS

was anyone tender
with me, save Uncle Dutch?

swinging me high
onto so-broad shoulders

marching the two-but-one of us
down steep wooden stairs
into their plain concrete cellar

where his thick broad flag
from World War One
did not have the right
number of stars

still, we honored it
singing “My country, ‘tis”
at the top of his grown up, and my
very little lungs

just before turning
to re-mount the stairs
I, with my small hand
and he, with his huge
would very smartly salute

***

Words, not pictures today.  A different kind of journeying toward various forms of wild beauty…

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Bears Be Common — truly wild poem from 2001

NJ WILD was my first nature blog.  My readers know how very much I celebrate any aspect of wild in our beleaguered, overpopulated state.  My heart rejoiceth that bears have been seen in the Pine Barrens, near Chatsworth.  I well know the three roads where the sightings happened, experiencing a delightful frisson whenever I am in ‘bear country’.  Now, the Packet has banished/vanished NJWILD, but I had saved this sample and found it today for NJWILDBEAUTY readers.

In the fall, I believe October 6 and 7, there were Bear Sighting signs at the Keefe Road entry to my neighboring preserve, the Pole Farm.  Friends and I, unbeknownst to one another, each returned twice a day, hoping, hoping…  Of course, the bear sighting signs were supposed to have the opposite effect…

Nonetheless, this poem came to me in a potent year, and I share it with you, to remind you just what WILD really means!

If I ever publish a book of the 2001 poems, its title shall be, “Most Fierce in Strawberry Time.”

Bears, They Be Common…

“…for bears, they be common, being a great black kind of bear

                                    which be most fierce in strawberry time…”   William Wood, 1630

so early English readers

learn of wildlife in our land:

of squirrels so troublous to corn

that husbands (Wood means farmers)

carry their cats to the cornfields

hearns are herons, eel-devouring

eagles known as gripes

wolves bear no joint from head to tail

none but Indians may catch beaver

to hunt turkey, follow tracks in snow

but skip cormorants – rank and fishy

owls taste better than partridge

Wood limns the Indian game:

riding the bear over

watery plain, until

he can bear him no longer

then engaging in a cuffing match

Wood gives short shrift to omens

save cranes in faminous winters

in my starveling time

a Nebraska sandhill crane’s been sighted

in nearby Lawrenceville

yet I cannot sight

my own rare Love

whose first eagle we discovered

gripping a glowering pine

after tracking the great hearns

with and without eels

we were untroubled

by jointless wolf, fishy cormorants

at dusk we would ride the black bear

over meadow and plain

kicking with eager heels

as he splashed into inky bogwater

we held no cuffing match

yet he is elusive as Wood’s beaver

cannot be tracked, even in freshest snow

now I shall be most fierce

in strawberry time

CAROLYN FOOTE EDELMANN

March 10, 2001