Saturday, May 24, 2008

New poem (revised)


The first Christmas without your mother
thousands of blackbirds darkened the sky
as we drove out of Turlock toward home.

While the radio intoned another
holiday song, crowds of cows bent their lithe
necks to tight water troughs. Brown

horses drifted behind a fence. The blackbirds were
uncountable. They swooped like a massive wing
to the trees, lining the edges of winter-gray limbs,

a child’s primitive drawing of birds perched .
Turning off the radio, you extinguished
the singing beamed from the ether, a rowdy hymn,

then pulled over. We stepped into the silver
dusk. The persistent birds flickered and stirred,
a black agitation of animate leaves,

some whirl of shadowy life. Leaning against
the fence we watched, half waiting for a synchronized
lift-off. Two horses came to the fence from

the cold pasture, leaned their heads into our hands.
We received white puffs of breath, their fur
stiff beneath our fingers. An ebony cloud,

the birds finally lifted in concert, hovered,
then landed again in the trees. Your mother
once was a child in a farm house nearby. Now

her body lies in the black ground in the town
graveyard, buried four months ago after two
years in bed. You told me the other day you

don't know what to do, who you are--now
that your mother is gone. Now that caring for her
is an energy unfulfilled. Now that breathing

is easy. The miracle swirl of birds lifts
again, swoops, then alights. Then again and again,
as though now a habit. The horses are getting too

joyful for our touch. It’s time to leave this slow
town, to weave together the remnants of holiday
in our warm home. Driving the dusky road,

we see at the town limit two men hauling oranges
to their truck, done for the day. We stop, keep
the engine running and buy two bags, just for the glow.


sam of the ten thousand things said...

Great imagery in this piece, Kate. Strong sense of place. The motion of the birds is effective. I really like the movement and noise of the engine at the end - leaving the poem open. The visit with the horses made me think of Wright's "A Blessing". Thanks for the post.

Collin Kelley said...

One word: Wow.

Kate Evans said...

Hey Sam: No suprise that A Blessing is one of my all-time favorite poems...and I have been reading some Wright lately. I just read an amazing poem about Wright thinking about a horse carrying him away upon death. He had such a special affinity for horses (or for the horse image). Thanks for your comments on my poem. They help me to see new things in it.

Collin: THANKS. :)

Isaiah Vianese said...

Again, I loved watching this poem evolve on the blog. Revision is such a fascinating process.

Also, kudos for such a beautiful conclusion. This is a great piece from beginning to end.