Friday, September 29, 2006
In acknowlegement of the fact that a) some of my readers are also popular young roaring-boy poets and b) my own poetic tastes run to Tennyson and Longfellow and don't extend much further than Robert Service, I'll periodically include a poem here at Stevereads.
These won't be poems like "The Song of Hiawatha," where I already KNOW that it's a great work of art. These will be poems that struck some kind of note inside me - and I'll be inviting you-all to write in and TEACH me about them, for good or ill.
My first example comes from this week's New Yorker. It's by somebody named Deborah Digges, and it's called 'The Birthing':
Call out the names in the procession of the loved.
Call from the blood the ancestors here to bear witness
to the day he stopped the car,
we on our way to a great banquet in his honor.
In a field a cow groaned lowing, trying to give birth,
what he called front leg presentation,
the calf come out nose first, one front leg dangling from his mother.
A fatal sign he said while rolling up the sleeves
of his dress shirt, and climbed the fence.
I watched him thrust his arm entire
into the yet-to-be, where I imagined holy sparrows scattering
in the hall of souls for his big mortal hands just to make way.
With his whole weight he pushed the calf back in the mother
and grasped the other leg tucked up like a closed wing
against the new one's shoulder.
And found a way in the warm dark to bring both legs out
into the world together.
Then heaved and pulled, the cow arching her back,
until a bull calf, in a whoosh of blood and water,
came falling whole and still onto the meadow.
We rubbed his blackness, bloodying our hands.
The mother licked the newborn, of us oblivious,
until he moved a little, struggled.
I ran to get our coats, mine a green velvet cloak,
and his tuxedo jacket, and worked to rub the new one dry
while he set out to find the farmer.
When it was over, the new calf suckling his mother,
the farmer soon to lead them to the barn,
leaving our coats just where they lay
we huddled in the car.
And then made love toward eternity,
without a word drove slowly home. And loved some more.
I can see some faults in this thing right away (the willfully erroneous grammar and punctuation, to sound all 'poety,' and of course that 'of us oblivious'), but I kind of like this.
What does everybody else think? Not just the poets, either - did anybody else like this?