Thursday, July 18, 2013

My sisters at the haymow door

This is another of my mother's photographs. (A single click will enlarge it.) I love the skewed viewpoint and the light on those fresh rosy faces. I also like the hands and the knees. What my brother, Robert, used to call our FOO (family of origin) was in many ways a family of brothers--four of them born in less than 5 years! This wolf-cub group was flanked by these two girls. I am the oldest child, four years older than the older girl here.

Tonight here is another poem from The Book of Luminous Things, which I have described at the end of this post. Again the headnote is by the editor of the anthology, Czeslaw Milosz.

Wayne Dodd 1939-  (Click his name to go to his web page.)
[This poet was born in the same year as the older girl in the photo, my sister, Susan.]

Rural America persists in the consciousness of city inhabitants, for after all many of them come from families with a rural background. Here, the news of a farmer's death brings members of the family from a distant city.


Beside the gravel pile, the lizard
warms himself in the dazzling greenness 
of his life, watching us casually
through half-lidded eyes,
It is May.
Next week he would have been 57.
My daughter holds my hand, 3 years old
and ignorant, the airsickness forgotten,
and the hurried trip
and interrupted sleep.
Below the road
the whiteface cattle graze
in the morning peace
The house is quiet.
Inside, his daughters stare unbelieving
into coffee cups, unable to imagine
the future.
My child throws some gravel
and the lizard fixes us
with both eyes, but does not
run, unwilling to leave
the warmth of the sun.
I can hear everything so clearly.
Years later, she will ask
what he was like, her grandfather/
And I will try to remember
the greenness of this lizard,
he loved the sun so.

Wayne Dodd, from The Book of Luminous Things, page 247.

This poem follows a process of thought that seems completely believeable. The use of numbers, not words, for their ages. calls attention to the age disparity between the daughter and her father's father. The very shortest lines deal with time. And the figure of the lizard holds the whole thing together.  A simple, elegant poem. that deals with elemental matters. Sleep well.

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