DNA

DNA

I spat into the tube and sent it off

and now I know:  I descended from a

crabapple tree. A nettle by the river

was my grandfather, but the oak I call

Grandmother is not an ancestor at all.

The snapping turtle I moved from the road,

the wolf spider I met in the garden

scurrying away with her white egg ball,

are second cousins. I am part fox, stillness

on the edge of the meadow. I am part

owl, passing on silent wings. I am thrice

removed from an otter, four times from a deer.

Catbird is my brother—I knew it all along.

We sing the same cobbled-together song.

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I WHO HAVE DIED

I WHO HAVE DIED

I who have died am alive again today.

~e. e. cummings

I have surrendered to the darkness

of loneliness, of foreign spaces.

 

Where did you go when you were afraid?

I sat on the kitchen floor and wept

 

for my golden house, the porch,

the rock in the meadow.

 

Broken butterflies predicted loss,

so many losses. And today

 

I live again. On New Year’s Night,

two owls flew over my head

 

in the dark garden. This morning,

there is snow. Again I live, again.

 

This was inspired by a lecture by Br. David Steindl-Rast  about the practice of gratitude.

ORDINARY BIRDS

A few years old.

 

ORDINARY BIRDS

Go early, our friends told us,

just before sunrise, when the light

above the mountains is a pink line

that slowly turns yellow, then gold,

and the sun sends up a long pale pillar.

Then the geese will rise, calling,

against the sky.

You can hear the whisper of their wings.

 

We went to see the geese,

early,  Orion and the waning sickle moon

still in the deep blue sky.  We heard

very far away, the geese muttering

in a low wet place, waiting for dawn.

The sky turned pink, and the sun

sent up its shaft of light, and the gray

clouds thickened and the light

shut down.  We stood in the shelter

 

against the south wind.  The geese

we came to see did not rise.

Overhead in the rafters,  little birds

were waking:  a grackle, house sparrows,

one young brown cowbird.  They shook

themselves, preened their feathers,

murmured their unthrilling music–

ordinary birds, plain birds,

in the gray morning,

waking one by one.

 

published in Penwood Review, Fall, 2008

EVERY CORNCRAKE COUNTS

This is the first poem I “found,” back in 1992.  It is all printed in a little brochure I picked up in Ireland, describing how to conserve the Corncrake, a bird that nests in what we call hayfields.

 

Every Corncrake Counts

a found poem

A number of factors affecting Corncrakes:

loss of long vegetation along hedgerows,

drainage of small marsh areas

where reeds, white-grass and flag iris provide early cover,

more closely grazed pasture,

marginal land going out of production.

Rotary cutters cut very close to the ground.

 

Any species attempting to nest

on the ground in a hay meadow is at risk.

 

Cutting from the headlands towards the centre kills birds.

Chicks in particular are reluctant to cross mown ground

where they are at risk from predators like hooded crows,

tend to stay in long grass where they are often killed

when the last swathes at the centre of the field are cut.

 

When a Corncrake loses a clutch

–for example in a silage field–but survives herself,

she will lay again often in a hay meadow

which may also be cut before the eggs hatch.

In this way, a female may lay three of four clutches

but succeed in hatching few or no chicks.

 

Listen for Corncrakes on your land.

Listen for their calling at night.

 

The male Corncrake usually calls from the same spot.

You may be able to work out which field the nest is in.

If you have a Corncrake on your land

leave areas of rough vegetation on the farm uncut.

Marshy corners, patches of flag iris and nettles

all provide suitable early nest sites.

Ensure that the headlands have taller grass than the rest of the field

when the Corncrakes arrive.

 

With a little care and patience, fields can be cut  in a way

that will drive Corncrake adults and chicks

to the safety of the field margins.

It will be necessary to work the field

in an anti-clockwise direction.

Headlands at the field ends are cut first

to provide a turning circle.

Leave a swathe uncut in the headlands.

 

Cut the field slowly.

Speed kills, and is not vital

 

 

From  “Every Corncrake Counts,” an Irish Wildbird Conservancy pamphlet

written by Eleanor Mayes

April prompt #29

April prompt #29

EXPLAIN WHY YOU HAVE AN EGG IN YOUR POCKET

Mary’s #1

 

It’s so small.

Speckled with brown.

She left it in my garden hat.

Some inexperienced sparrow–

her nest not finished–

the urge upon her–

who can say?

The egg is already cold.

I don’t know what to do,

not being a bird.

But being a mother

I’ll carry it,

for awhile.