Friday, May 17, 2013

Heading back

Gonna put out my suet and sunflower seeds and see what I can stir up out of the Michigan Woods. Leaving Sunday and hope to stay long enough to see the spectacular fall color. This fellow was very fond of suet a year ago. He's quite shy, so I had to take the photos through the kitchen window. See what a woodpecker can do to a tree? I must admit that the tree wasn't in great shape, but now it has given up. A woodpecker has some kind of mechanism that protects its brain from damage as a result of the repeated impacts. Several years ago, a pair of Eastern Bluebirds nested in a woodpecker-made hole in a tree behind the house. But by the next year the tree had blown down in a windstorm. Not everything turns out the way we think it should, as in this prose poem. (My grandson says poems must be rhyming and metrical, but Vern Rutsala wouldn't agree.)


It advertised the only trained hippopotamus in the
world. We had to see that. It was Iowa and it was sum-
mer with all that oppressive heat. The tent was small
and there was only one ring, the grass inside it scarcely
trampled down---not a good sign. Early on we noticed
there weren't many performers but they put on differ-
ent costumes and took different names, too, for each of
the acts, Part of the fun was to spot them in their new
personas. The buxom bareback rider switched to tights
and labored up the trapeze. We decided they were all
one family, Finally, the hippo entered looking smaller
than we expected—maybe it was one of those Iowa
hogs in disguise. An older man, the catcher in the tra-
peze act, walked the hippo slowly around the one
ring. It shuffled along looking none too happy and
then disappeared through the tent flap. You asked,
What's the act? What does it do? I said, I'm afraid
we've just seen it.

Vern Rutsala in A Handbook for Writers; new and selected
Prose Poems, White Pine Press, 2004. Page 57.

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