Flight of Fancy

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Luck, sometimes, just being in the right place at the right time. One step, two steps, and up he went and look at those footsteps. His flight, a step of faith, two steps of faith, and away he goes, fait accompli. Another golden oldie. I do love rediscovering them. The photos, too.

Flight of Fancy

Just by chance, I caught this cormorant.
“Behind you, quick,” said Clare.
I turned and ‘Click!’

Such a miracle:
the first steps of flight
taken over water.
That first step heavy,
the second one lighter,
and the third one
scarcely a paint brush
pocking the waves.

The need to take flight
lies deep within me.
Fleeing from what?
Running towards what?
Who knows?

All I know is that the future
lies to the right of this photo
and the past lies to the left,
and I don’t know
the meaning of either.

But I do remember the words
of Antonio Machado:
‘Caminante, no hay camino,
sólo hay estela sobre la mar.’

“traveler, there is no road,
just a wake across life’s sea.”

Comment: I revised this poem a few minutes ago and cut it down to its essentials. If you want to read the original and check the revisions, click on this link to the earlier poem. Any comments on the rewrite and the revision process would be welcome.

Diagnosis

Diagnosis

Diagnosed with a terminal illness
that I also call life I know
this sickness will surely
terminate in my death.

Death:
it has walked beside me
for more than seventy years.
It has gazed back from my mirror,
as I shave my face, and part my hair.
It has lain its head on the pillow
beside me as I lie in bed.

We have shared so many things:
the soul’s dark night,
the winding ways of life’s
once infinite, now soon-to-be-ended maze.

Now, arm in arm, life, death, and me,
an intimate ménage à trois,
we are running a three-legged race
while carrying an egg in a spoon
and playing life’s ultimate game of chicken.

Comment: Look carefully at the second picture: you will see the fish he has just caught, sideways in his beak. These photos are from the bay at Alberton in PEI, taken about two seconds apart!

Angels

How many dancing on the head of a pin?

Angels

I thought for a moment that, yes,
I was an angel and I was dancing
on a pinhead with so many other
angels, and all of us butterflies
spreading our wings with their peacock
eyes radiant with joy and tears spark
-ling in time to the music that wanders
up and down and around with inscrutable
figures held spell-bound in a magic moment
… and I still feel that pulsing in my head,
that swept up, heart stopping sensation
when the heavens opened and the eternal
choir raised us up from the earth, all
earthbound connections severed and all
of us held safe in an Almighty hand.

Crow’s Feet

A crow, but not a beach. You’ll have to click on the link at the bottom of the page for the real beach photos.

Crow’s Feet

a convict’s arrows
marking the eye’s corner
and the beach at low tide
with its crackle of wings
as sea-birds fly
their defensive patterns
feathered sails
on a canvas wind

how many crabs
made in the image
of their carapaced god
hide in the sand
half-buried waiting
for the tide to turn
and water to return
and give them refuge

abandoned shells
postage stamps
glued in the top right-hand corner
of a picture post card beach

who can decipher
the sea’s hand writing
this mess of letters
stitched by sandpipers
who thread the beach’s eye
inscribing dark secrets
with the sewing machine
needles of their beaks

pregnant this noon tide silence
this absence of waves
where the quahaug lies buried
secured by a belly button
a lifeline to air and light
surrounded by crow’s feet
tugging at the beach’s dry skin

sand beneath my feet
sand between my toes
dry sand sandpapering

Comment:
And here’s the link to the beach photos.

https://moore.lib.unb.ca/poet/Crows_Feet.html

The Red Room

I looked for a picture of music, but could find nothing. No Carlos, no flute, no nothing. So, I invite you to use your imagination: just pretend these are the notes of an Andean flute, floating in the early morning air. Now close your eyes and listen carefully. Can you hear the music?

The Red Room

Carlos makes music on his flute.
He lives in the Green Room,
with its door just opposite mine

He creates the highest note of all
and it floats before me in the air,
a trapeze artist caught in a sunbeam
and suspended between the hands
that fling and those that catch.

His musical rhythms are different.
I try to follow his fingering.

In the space between notes,
tropical birds flash jungle colors
as they flit between flowers.

With a whirring of wings,
all music stops,
save for the robin’s trill
refreshing the early summer
with his eternal song.

Comment:

I finally found a photo of Carlos.
Here he is, in Kingsbrae Gardens,
playing Beethoven’s Ode to Joy
on ‘half-filled’ water bottles
tuned to play a perfect scale.
Like an Andean bird, the man
could pluck notes from the air
and fill the world with music.

Why?

Different bird, same question: why? This one is from one of the beaches on the road to North Cape, PEI. Why, indeed?

Why?

In the mud nest jammed tight against the garage roof,
tiny yellow beaks flap ceaselessly open.

The parents sit on a vantage point of electric cable,
mouths moving in silent encouragement.

A sudden rush, a clamour of wing and claw,
a small body thudding down a ladder of air
to crash beak first on the concrete.
  “Why?”

 “Wye is a river.
      It flows through Ross-on-Wye
      and marks the boundary
      between England and Wales.”

And the swallows perch on the rafters
watching their fledgling
as it struggles on the floor:
the weakening wings,
the last slow kicks of the twitching legs.
“Why?”

“Y is a crooked letter
     invented by the Green Man of Wye.”

Comment: This is the original poem, written back in the eighties, wow, that’s forty years ago. I included it in my first poetry chapbook, Idlewood (published, 1991). It was a slim volume, dark green color, typed and photocopied, very humble, but MINE! A couple of years ago I wrote a prose poem, sort of flash fiction, in one of my Welsh sequences and included the story as part of the text. It came to me as a memory yesterday morning, and I posted it on Facebook. Here now is the story. Hopefully, you have just read the poem: I hope you liked it but, as I know all too well, de gustibus non est disputandum. I would like to know if you prefer the poetry to the prose. Please let me know, pretty please?

Why?

“Where are you going?” I ask. “To see a man about a dog,” my father replies. “Why?” I ask. “Hair of the dog,” his voice ghosts through the rapidly closing crack as the front door shuts behind him. “Why?” I cry out. I recall the mud nest jammed tight against our garage roof. Tiny yellow beaks flap ceaselessly open. Parent birds sit on a vantage point of electric cable, their beaks moving in silent encouragement. A sudden rush, a clamour of wing and claw, a small body thudding down a ladder of air to crash beak first on the concrete. “Why?” I ask. The age-old answer comes back to me. “Wye is a river. It flows through Ross-on-Wye and marks the boundary between England and Wales.” The swallows perch on the rafters watching their fledgling as it struggles on the floor, the weakening wing flaps, the last slow kicks of the twitching legs. “Y is a crooked letter invented by the Green Man of Wye,” my grandfather says. “Why?” I repeat. “I want to know why.” Silence hangs a question mark over the unsatisfied spaces of my questioning mind.

Fall

Mactaquac and geese at the head pond

Fall

Red leaves multiply on maple trees.
Bright berries staining a mountain ash.

One flower survives on the hollyhock,
its blaze of glorious blooms lost, faded
in a silence of dried seeds, absent bees.

Hummingbirds are now long gone. Geese
gather in great gaggles feasting on grass
before taking flight and soaring south.

I want to ask questions about their journey
but they mouth denial and waddle away
to paddle on grey waves when I approach.

Comment: With a temperature yesterday of 21 C (that’s plus 21 C) rafts of geese are still around. These photos are from earlier in the fall. I love the way several stand erect, looking at and for possible intruders, while others feed. Shared responsibilities. I guess we humans could learn a great deal from the geese, if only ‘we were not full of care / and had some time to stop, and stare’ (W. H. Davies, one of my favorite Welsh poets, the verses changed slightly and adapted to Mactaquac). Roedd hi’n y tywydd heulog a cynnes yfory / the weather was sunny and warm yesterday. What a joy to be able to write that in Welsh after so many years without the language.

Merry Sunshine

“The flowers that bloom in the spring, tra-la, bring promise of merry sunshine …” Gilbert and Sullivan, from The Mikado, if I remember correctly, and not at all anonymous like the Anonymous Bosch artist who painted this painting. Still, I like it, and it certainly lends a little bit of color to the pale cheeks of these walls.

“And we merrily dance and we sing, tr-la, as we welcome the promise they bring, tra-la, of a summer with roses and wine …” I can remember my grandfather singing that in the kitchen in Swansea. He would conduct with one hand, and encourage me to join in with the other. And I did. Merry days, they were, before the fire in winter and out in the greenhouse in early spring.

So, where have all the flowers gone? Gone with the grosbeaks, everyone. Which reminds me, I saw an Evening Grosbeak at the feeder this morning. The first one in years. There used to be several nesting nearby and they were regular visitors, as were the Gray Jays, aka Whisky Jacks, aka Gorbies, aka Ghosts of the Woods and all of them long, long gone.

Will they naw come back again? Who knows? The world is changing even as I sit at my window and watch it go by. February, March, April, May, June, and now July. The lock down has been lifted, but the fear of going unmasked in the great outdoors is still with us, as are the anonymous givers of the virus, a donation I do not want, and nor does anyone else, in their right minds, compus mentis, and not yet willing to on the anonymous ranks of the Gorbies, the Grosbeaks, the Swallows, and the other birds that have fled elsewhere, leaving our yard to the crows, the blue jays, the squirrels, the chipmunks, and the occasional more colorful visitors.

Spring Flowers
by
Anonymous Bosch

Kite

Kite Flying

So light, the kite,
a butterfly in flight.

Breeze battered,
sky-blue shattered.

Children stare
seeing the wing-shape
fluttering there
rising on flimsy air.

Diving, dipping,
nylon cord slipping,
finger-flesh ripping.

Here come others,
children and mothers.

Butterflies, bright,
ready for flight,
fighting wind-might:
a child’s delight.

I didn’t have photos of a kite.
I offer some humming birds instead.
Listen closely:
you can hear them hum.

Hot Water Duck

Canada Geese at Mactaquac

Hot Water Duck

The worst punishment of all was to be sent to bed early.  You climbed upstairs by candlelight, if you were lucky, or groped your way upwards in the dark, if you had been really bad. You entered the cold, dark, damp of the bedroom and punishment was not to have supper, and not to have a warm hot water bottle or a warm baked brick to keep you warm in bed. I loved that hot brick, baked in the oven or by the fireside, then wrapped up in a towel. Bricks and bottles: they banished damp from the bed and kept you warm for a while, or burned if the wrapping fell off. The hot water bottles: they were made of tin not rubber, and once, I remember a cast iron duck, that my grandmother baked in the oven, then wrapped in swaddling clothes, like a little baby. But if the grown-ups said you had been naughty, or nasty, or cheeky, or just plain wicked, then you were given nothing to keep you warm, and you lay in bed and shivered until you cried yourself to sleep.

Canada Geese and Fall Foliage at Mactaquac