Politics and Poetry
Over at "Irish Elk" http://mcns.blogspot.com/ the discussion of Christmas songs that leave one's teeth on edge... fingernails on the slate.....bacofoil on the braces; caused the discussion turned to the "poet laureate select" of the Obamanation. Which, in turn, led me to mention my favorite poet: Tom Ferril, Colorado's Poet Laureate from 1979 until his death in 1988.
His best known work is painted upon the walls of the Colorado State Capitol Rotunda. "Here is a Land Where Life is Written in Water."
My own favorite, a seasonal tribute to Springtime, I share here for Mrs. "P" and all who enjoy and appreciate the turn of phrase in well crafted verse. Given that our nation is held in the grip of unseasonably cold weather...this is a grand time to remember that Spring will follow the frigid, insensate Winter wherein Cabin Fever accosts the human spirit.
The Prairie Melts
The prairie melts into the throats of larks
And green like water green begins to flow
Into the pinto patches of the snow.
I'm here, I move my foot, I count the mountains:
I can make calculations of my being
Here in the spring again, feeling it, seeing...
Three granite mountain ranges wore away
While I was coming here, that is the fourth
To shine in spring to sunlight from the north.
A mountain range ago the sea was here,
Now I am here, the falcons floating over,
Bluebirds swimming foredeeps of the blue,
Spindrift magpies black and splashing white,
The winged fins, the birds, the water green...
Not the ocean ever now, but lilies here,
Sand lilies, yucca lillies, water petaled,
Lilies to delicate, only a little while,
Lilies like going away, like a far sound,
Lilies like wanting to be loved
And tapping with a stick,
An old man tapping
The world in springtime with a stick.
This buffalo grass? O, you who are not here,
What if I knock upon your tombs and say:
The grass is back! Why are you still away?
I know the myth for spring I used to know:
The Son of God was pinned to a wooden truss
But he lived again, His blood contiguous
To mine, His blood still ticking like a clock
Against the collar of my overcoat
That I have buttoned tight to warm my throat.
Who was His lover?
That might keep Him nearer.
Whom did He love in springtime fingering
All fruit to come in any blossom white?
Cupping His hand for tips of nakedness
"You are the flowers, Beloved,
You are the footsteps in the darkness always,
You are the first beginning of forever,
The first fire, the wash of it, the light,
The sweetest plume of wind for a walled town"?
I light my pipe. A heavy gopher sags
Into her burrow scarfed with striping snow,
So quick, so slow, I hardly see her go.
Yonder, a barbed-wire fence, and I remember
Without intention how a wire can twist
A gopher hole until it burns the wrist...
And there are wrists like mine that hang in trees,
And overcoats like mine to mulch the stubble,
And there are houses where young men say
It would be different if the harbors and
The looms were ours...
The end of women wailing for a ship.
But sundown changes day to yesterday:
The purple light withdraws from purple light,
The listing mountains close the lilies tight.
Above the blackness still one falcon burns,
So high, so pale, the palest star seems nearer,
One fleck of sun, one atom floating mirror.
His shadow will not strike this world tonight:
There is a darker homing hollow bone
Of wings returning gives to wings unknown.
My tilted skull? My socket eyes? Are these
With chalk of steers apprenticed to the grass
When mountains wear away and falcons pass?
No answer is.
No policy of rock
Or angel speaks.
Yet there could come a child
A long time hence at sundown to this prairie,
A child far-generated, lover to lover,
Lover to lover, lover to lover over...
(O I can hear them coming, hear them speaking
Far as the pale arroyos of the moon.)
The child could walk this prairie where I stand,
Seeing the sundown spokes of purple turning,
The child could whisper to a falcon floating:
"I am not lost.
They told me of this prairie:
This is the prairie where they used to come
To watch the lilies and the falcons.