Friday, August 30, 2013

mary oliver's backyard

Here's another poem by Mary Oliver, that comes as an Afterword in her book Owls and Other Fantasies:

I had no time to haul out all
the dead stuff so it hung, limp
or dry, wherever the wind swung it

over or down or across.  All summer
it stayed that way, untrimmed, and
thickened.  The paths grew
damp and uncomfortable and mossy until
nobody could get through but a mouse or a

shadow.  Blackberries, ferns, leaves, litter
totally without direction management
supervision.  The birds loved it.

I like to say this poem out loud.  "haul out all":  the words move with difficulty, slowly and each word discreetly.  "shadow" slips into a spot on a new line/ new stanza.  "management supervision" is a mess of language/ meaning!

I have been painting woods that are on the edge of yards and gardens, images a little bit messy, in and out of light and shadow, and I hope suggestive of birds just out of view.

Edge of the woods

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

mary oliver

Here is a poem by Mary Oliver:
White Owl Flies Into and Out of the Field

Coming down
out of the freezing sky
with its depths of light,
like an angel,
or a buddha with wings,
it was beautiful
and accurate,
striking the snow and whatever was there
with a force that left the imprint
of the tips of its wings--
five feet apart--and the grabbing
thrust of its feet,
and the indentation of what had been running
through the white valleys
of the snow--

and then it rose, gracefully,
and flew back to the frozen marshes,
to lurk there,
like a little lighthouse,
in the blue shadows--
so I thought:
maybe death
isn't darkness, after all,
but so much light
wrapping itself around us--

as soft as feathers--
that we are instantly weary
of looking, and looking, and shut our eyes,
not without amazement,
and let ourselves be carried,
as through the translucence of mica,
to the river
that is without the least dapple or shadow--
that is nothing but light--scalding, aortal light--
in which we are washed and washed
out of our bones.

I like Mary Oliver's poems because they give me a wonderful path that I can follow through the wild, and when she writes about the human world I like that she is so matter-of-fact.  This poem is from Owls and Other Fantasies, published by Beacon Press in 2003.

Monday, August 26, 2013

hummingbird launch

Ruby-throated Hummingbird
pigment, charcoal, glue/ paper

The hummingbirds are fattening up, getting ready for their migration south, across the Gulf of Mexico, to some place south of the U.S.-Mexico border.  We have seen them at our feeder and at our flowers--especially the bee balm--for about three weeks now.  Our birds are juveniles; we know this because they do not have the colorful markings yet of adults, notably the ruby throats that are especially bright and iridescent in the males.  So they are getting ready for their first trip!

Information from banding relates amazing fidelity to migration routes.  Banders have encountered the same bird on the same day a year later.  Moreover, the birds' instructions for migration must be inherited because young hummingbirds will winter where their ancestors have wintered and travel the same routes even though the trip is their first ever.  And they do not migrate as a group, according to David Sibley, that wonderful bird painter and researcher.  So these youngsters do not learn their route from a flying partner.

Our youngsters--there seem to be three of them--can fatten themselves to double their (tiny) weight before they set out for the south.  After they leave, I'll look around to see if I can find a nest.