This competent mother of nine guided them all past again on the way to the trees
where they spend the night, I get so excited taking pictures through the window-glass
that I talk to them, praising their beauty.
Here is a closer view of two babies, looking for bugs.
Tonight I want you to follow the trajectory of the poem below, which I just discovered in an old Paris Review, Summer, 2007, page 142. It is by one of my favorite prose-poem writers, Vern Rutsala.
Their sorrow is something like
buyer's remorse. They chose
their paths but now regret it,
realizing---too late---they could
have gone to the seashore
or forests of sweet pines.
But there is one I like, ignored
by engineers, looking like
the sorriest of them all. It's off
the map in Idaho and rises
and falls, goes over rickety bridges,
seems almost to lose its way
completely but finally staggers
into the yard of the old farm
one sepia evening, the years
peeling back like stripping bark
from a willow. It's the time
the old man cleared the land
for the homestead and hammered
the old house together
with his bare fists.
Tonight I catch the scent
of sawdust, the new siding still
white as stripped willow.
Vern Rutsala (1934-2014)
Six short four-line stanzas, clean language--nothing fancy, take you along the road. But the journey is also one long journey backwards in time, carried forth by intelligent words that have freight, like sepia. Read it again and follow the pattern of the thought,
Vern Rutsala died in April of this year. Here is a link to his obituary, which covers his work and career.
"'I like to throw the blob of words on the page, then come back, maybe days later, to see what is still possible in the poem,' Rutsala said. "Then I'm able to shape it. Most language is trying to sell us something or deceive us. Poetry doesn't try to deceive."