Monday, February 28, 2005

Redwings, Wilbur, Old Poems, Acadia, and a Pulse

I was filling the bird feeders Sunday morning. The sun was already higher in the sky than December noons. Although cold, the sky was temperate blue and there was verve in the air. A resonance of birds grew around me, soon sounding so strident that I knew it could not be chickadees waiting for me to finish my tasks. I became aware of a particular note that I had not heard for several months. Walking to the parking lot I looked into the butternut trees across the way and saw a flock of red-winged blackbirds singing outrageously of spring’s return.

And this is where I note that Richard Wilbur could do justice to such a moment, its formal rituals, its natural order, its overwhelming sentiment of redemption. I could try but never in a million springs succeed in writing such a poem. Mine would ultimately be tainted by conditions that we now know and not those that we once loved. Like the one I wrote for the occasion 2 years ago:
The First Wave 3.14.03

Reconnaissance arriving from the sun,
the red-winged blackbirds carry on their wings
insignia—crimson epaulets—homespun.
Their trill along the river heralds spring’s
return. The morning bursts with southern sound
as they prepare these northern borderlands
for occupation. Light will seed the ground
for growth and heat unshackle deadlocked sands.
Next week the equinox will land unseen;
its armaments will burn the country green.
Unless of course I was in Acadia National Park. Then I’d heal. And would wonder whether Wilbur then is right after all. That there is a power behind the curtain, that salvation is in our stars and resurrection our rightful inheritance. That voice is not merely our desperate cry but the innate timbre of the word. Until I came back home of course.

Nevertheless, the redwings are back early this year and that for me is enough. Despite the sixteen inches of snow forecasted for tonight, I have heard the best voices of the generations sing of spring. My pulse is good today.

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