MudSong Seventeen: With ice clinging fast to their wings

A Multitude of Birds
—by Ron McFarland

Sing now the desperate dance of small birds.
Sing where the quail collect after snowfall,
the mud-gutted borders of roads where the last
hard grains of wheat lay heaped with the gravel.

Sing the wren’s last colorless song,
the solitary vireo’s slow cold slur
by the roadside sifting old brown bags
for crusts or breadcrumbs, or perhaps

among the shards of bright green glass
a sip of wine, a claret deep as blood.
Sing then the cunning of sparrows which look
like nothing but dark little rocks,

for they will endure, and the starling
whose song is the echo of anything,
and the waxwing, gregarious feeders.
Sing warblers and blackbirds perched on the edge

of winter with ice clinging fast
to their wings, with plentiful seed
lying deep, with songs frozen hard into words,
sing now the desperate dance of small birds.

 

A robin, wrens, bullfinches, blue tits and other birds sheltering in a snow storm; a flock of sparrows roosting in a winter landscape (a pair) each by Harry Bright.

A robin, wrens, bullfinches, blue tits and other birds sheltering in a snow storm; a flock of sparrows roosting in a winter landscape (a pair) each, by Harry Bright.

MudSong Sixteen: As much a time of pain as of growth

 

This gorgeous quote is from Flowerfolk Herbal Apothecary’s most recent post, Equinox Arrival.

Spring is as much a time of pain as of growth. Imagine the egg, the bulb, the bud. All begin contained — all potential, endless promise. There is no strain, no disturbance by passion or power. But when growth begins, things break. Shells and bud casings, those intact perfections, fall away. What is revealed is unprotected tenderness…

– Patricia Monaghan

MudSong Fifteen: What spring does with cherry trees

LOVE POEM XIV

—Pablo Neruda

Translated by W. S. Merwin

 

 

cherry

 

Every day you play with the light of the universe.
Subtle visitor, you arrive in the flower and the water.
You are more than this white head that I hold tightly
as a cluster of fruit, every day, between my hands.

You are like nobody since I love you.
Let me spread you out among yellow garlands.
Who writes your name in letters of smoke among the stars of the south?
Oh let me remember you as you were before you existed.

Suddenly the wind howls and bangs at my shut window.
The sky is a net crammed with shadowy fish.
Here all the winds let go sooner or later, all of them.
The rain takes off her clothes.

The birds go by, fleeing.
The wind. The wind.
I can contend only against the power of men.
The storm whirls dark leaves
and turns loose all the boats that were moored last night to the sky.

You are here. Oh, you do not run away.
You will answer me to the last cry.
Cling to me as though you were frightened.
Even so, at one time a strange shadow ran through your eyes.

Now, now too, little one, you bring me honeysuckle,
and even your breasts smell of it.
While the sad wind goes slaughtering butterflies
I love you, and my happiness bites the plum of your mouth.

How you must have suffered getting accustomed to me,
my savage, solitary soul, my name that sends them all running.
So many times we have seen the morning star burn, kissing our eyes,
and over our heads the gray light unwind in turning fans.

My words rained over you, stroking you.
A long time I have loved the sunned mother-of-pearl of your body.
I go so far as to think that you own the universe.
I will bring you happy flowers from the mountains, bluebells,
dark hazels, and rustic baskets of kisses.

I want
to do with you what spring does with the cherry trees.

MudSong Fourteen: The crocus stirs her lids

 

Part Two: Nature
—Emily Dickinson

 

X

“WHOSE are the little beds,” I asked,
“Which in the valleys lie?”
Some shook their heads, and others smiled,
And no one made reply.

“Perhaps they did not hear,” I said;
“I will inquire again.
Whose are the beds, the tiny beds
So thick upon the plain?”

“’T is daisy in the shortest;
A little farther on,
Nearest the door to wake the first,
Little leontodon.

“’T is iris, sir, and aster,
Anemone and bell,
Batschia in the blanket red,
And chubby daffodil.”

Meanwhile at many cradles
Her busy foot she plied,
Humming the quaintest lullaby
That ever rocked a child.

“Hush! Epigea wakens!
The crocus stirs her lids,
Rhodora’s cheek is crimson,—
She’s dreaming of the woods.”

Then, turning from them, reverent,
“Their bed-time ’t is,” she said;
“The bumble-bees will wake them
When April woods are red.”

 

Crocuses by Eunike Nugroho.

Crocuses by Eunike Nugroho.

 

Note: I apologize for missing two days of  the poetic mud! I’m chalking it up to hanging out with David Allen Sibley, reading Ursula Hegi, entertaining family, and The Day Job.

MudSong Thirteen: A change of mood

 

Dust of Snow
— Robert Frost

The way a crow
Shook down on me
The dust of snow
From a hemlock tree

Has given my heart
A change of mood
And saved some part
Of a day I had rued.

 

Eastern Hemlock (Tsuga canadensis), as illustrated in Trees of Indiana, by Charles Clemon Deam.

Eastern Hemlock (Tsuga canadensis), as illustrated in Trees of Indiana, by Charles Clemon Deam.

 

For more of March’s MudSongs, featuring poems by Cummings, Dickinson, Neruda, and others, click here.

 

MudSong Twelve: The slishity-slosh

 

Rain
— Shel Silverstein

 

I opened my eyes
And looked up at the rain,
And it dripped in my head
And flowed into my brain,
And all that I hear as I lie in my bed
Is the slishity-slosh of the rain in my head.

I step very softly,
I walk very slow,
I can’t do a handstand–
I might overflow,
So pardon the wild crazy thing I just said–
I’m just not the same since there’s rain in my head.

 

Source.

A twofer! Source.

 

For more March MudSongs by Neruda, Salter, and Dickinson (and more!), click here.

MudSong Eleven: Puddle-wonderful

[in Just-]

— E. E. Cummings

in Just-
spring          when the world is mud-
luscious the little
lame balloonman
whistles          far          and wee
and eddieandbill come
running from marbles and
piracies and it’s
spring
when the world is puddle-wonderful
the queer
old balloonman whistles
far          and             wee
and bettyandisbel come dancing
from hop-scotch and jump-rope and
it’s
spring
and
         the
                  goat-footed
balloonMan          whistles
far
and
wee
Puddle by Benjamin Deibert

Puddle by Benjamin Deibert

 

MudSong Nine: Beak to beak

 

Two Pigeons
— Mary Jo Salter

They’ve perched for hours
on that window-ledge, scarcely
moving. Beak to beak,

a matched set, they differ
almost imperceptibly—
like salt and pepper shakers.

It’s an event when they tuck
(simultaneously) their pinpoint
heads into lavender vests

of fat. But reminiscent
of clock hands blandly
turning because they must

have turned—somehow, they’ve
taken on the grave,
small-eyed aspect of monks

hooded in conferences
so intimate nothing need
be said. If some are chuckling

in the park, earning
their bread, these are content
to let the dark engulf them—

it’s all the human
imagination can fathom,
how single-mindedly

mindless two silhouettes
stand in a window thick
as milk glass. They appear

never to have fed on
anything else when they stir
all of a sudden to peck

savagely, for love
or hygiene, at the grimy
feathers of the other;

but when they resume
their places, the shift
is one only a painter

or a barber (prodding a chin
back into position)
would be likely to notice.

MudSongs Seven & Eight: O, she says

 

Two poems by Hailey Leithauser. 

Mockingbird

No other song

                    or swoop (part
       quiver, part swivel and
             plash) with
  tour de force
stray the course note
       liquefactions
   (its new,
bawdy air an
       aria hangs in) en-
thralls,
             trills, loops, soars,
                    startles, out-warbles,
out-brawns, more
       juicily,
                    lifts up
the dawn, outlaws from
                        sackcloth, the cool
     sloth of bed sheets,
                             from pillows
           and silks
                and blue-quilted, feminine
bolsters, fusses
                      of coverlets;
                                   nips as the switch
of a juvenile willow, fuzz
               of a nettle, to
       window and window
                           and window and ever
                   toward egress, to
           flurry, pollen
and petal shed,
                            to wet street
  and wet pavement,
              all sentiment intemperate,
  all sentience
                         ephemeral.

 

 Plate 21 of Birds of America by John James Audubon depicting Mocking Bird.


Plate 21 of “Birds of America” by John James Audubon, depicting Mocking Bird.

 

O, She Says

O, she says (because she loves to say O),
O to this cloud-break that ravels the night,
O to this moon, its mouthful of sorrow,
O shallow grass and the nettle burr’s bite,O to heart’s flare, its wobbly satellite,
O step after step in stumbling tempo,
O owl in oak, O rout of black bat flight,
(O moaned in Attic and Esperanto)O covetous tongue, O fat fandango,
O gnat tango in the hot, ochered light,
O wind whirred leaves in subtle inferno,
O flexing of sea, O stars bolted tight,O ludicrous swoon, O blind hindsight,
O torching of bridges and blood boiled white,
O sparrow and arrow and hell below,
O, she says, because she loves to say O.

MudSong Six: the whole gift of the day

 

Bird
— Pablo Neruda

It was passed from one bird to another,
the whole gift of the day.
The day went from flute to flute,
went dressed in vegetation,
in flights which opened a tunnel
through the wind would pass
to where birds were breaking open
the dense blue air –
and there, night came in.

When I returned from so many journeys,
I stayed suspended and green
between sun and geography –
I saw how wings worked,
how perfumes are transmitted
by feathery telegraph,
and from above I saw the path,
the springs and the roof tiles,
the fishermen at their trades,
the trousers of the foam;
I saw it all from my green sky.
I had no more alphabet
than the swallows in their courses,
the tiny, shining water
of the small bird on fire
which dances out of the pollen.

 

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