Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Light Leak

The days of loading cameras with film are mostly long gone.Although a few people (like the Brownie Camera Guy I follow on Twitter) are hanging in there. And sometimes (like tonight) when I feel a little blahhh, I can pretend I have just ruined most of a whole roll of film by using an app like Camerabag. Here is one result, looking at the aspens from my upstairs porch just today.

Big poetry news is that I have fallen in love with the many-faceted poetry of James Galvin, and through that, discovered two anthologies of farm poems: American and worldwide in translation. Galvin wrote the forward for one of them. I found some extraordinary poems today! Here is one of them from Galvin's collected poetry.


Evergreens have reasons
For stopping when they do,
At timberline or the clean edge
Of sage or prairie grass.
There are quantities of wind
They know they cannot cross.

They come down from the tundra
On waves of ridges and stop,
Staring out over open country,
Like pilgrims on the shore
Of an unexpected ocean.
The sky is still the sky, they know;
It won't understand ordinary language.

Meet my mother, twice removed,
Who could tell the time from stars.
She said everything is its own reward,
Grief, poverty, the last word.
Evening was her favorite time
And she walked along the shore of trees,
Carrying herself as if afraid
She might give herself away.
She called this being quiet.

Just inside the treeline, out of the wind,
Father built a handrail along the path.
She'd stand there like a sailor's wife
And stare at the high places as dark came on.
She said mountains may be islands
But the sky is still the sky.
She'd wait for the ranch lights
On the prairie to come out
Like a fallen constellation
She said waiting is its own reward,
The lights are only reasons.

James Galvin

from Resurrection Update: Collected Poems, 1975-1997
Copper Canyon Press, 1997, pages 71-72.

Lately I haven't been  fan of an initial capital letter on each line of a free-verse poem like this, regardless of where the sentences begin. But this poem ha made me change my mind. Look at the poetry of James Galvin; this is excellent and varied stuff!

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