Friday, May 10, 2013

One August Morning

I looked out my window and saw this buck in the early light. There have been five hunting seasons since then, and I am sure such a beauty wouldn't have survived them. When Dick Kappler was building our Northern Michigan house, we happened to be on the phone when he saw a buck with a rack more than twice this size (in the far meadow--not this close to the house) and Dick was so excited he could hardly talk on the phone. He said he had never seen a buck like that except in the Upper Peninsula! And the following hunting season the big buck that was taken just south of there made the newspaper. Now, through the Little Traverse Conservancy, we have set this property aside to be preserved for the benefit of wildlife. Which makes me happy tonight and every time I think about it. Listen, you might hear the Barred Owl calling, "Who cooks for you? Who cooks for you-ooo-ooo?"

Hayden Carruth lived in a house in a natural setting in central New York State for most of his later life. His interest in the natural world shows in many of his poems.

Naming for Love

These are the proper names:
Limestone, tufa, coral rag,
Clint, beer stone, braystone,
Porphyry, gneiss, rhyolite.
Ironstone, cairngorm, circle stone,
Blue stone, chalk, box stone,
Sarsen, magnesia, brownstone
flint adventurnine,
Soapstone, alabaster, basalt,
Slate, quartzite, ashlar,
Clinch, cob, gault, grit,
Buhrstone, dolomite,
Flagstone, freestone, sandstone,
Marble, shale gabbro, clay,
Adamant. gravel, traprock,
and of course, brimstone.

Some of the names are shapes:
Crag, scarp, moraine, esker,
Alp, hogback, ledge, tor,
Cliff, boulder, crater,
Gorge and bedrock.

Some denote uses:
Keystone, capstone,
Hearthstone. whetstone.
And gravestone.

For women a painful stone called
Wombstone, which doctors say is
"A calculus formed in the uterus."
Gallstone and kidneystone hurt everyone.
Millstone is our blessing.

I will not say the names
Of the misnamed precious stones.

But a lovely name is gold,
A product of stone.

Underwards is magma;
May all who read this live long.

from Toward the Distant Islands; new and selected poems by Hayden Carruth,
Copper Canyon Press, 2006.  Pages 13-14.

Once again, this poem has interesting things about its structure. After an introductory colon for each series, we have lots of commas separating the stones, and also the proper end-of-paragraph period at the end of each stanza. Direct quote set off by quotation marks, but no exclamation or question marks. Stanzas of irregular lengths, which isn't really a problem, except that so many of them come at the end, where I often feel that a a poem should get thicker, not thinner. It seems to me the poem ends more than once. One ending is at "gravestone" which makes sense. Then we go into the body stones and the odd thing about wombstone. Millstone blesses us, might be another ending. The last three short stanzas go slightly off the track. This is not all bad, but it did draw my attention. Of all the poems I've typed this year, this is the one that I kept wanting to revise. . . Oh, well, I still like it. Good Night!
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