Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Of bees, deer, and people

I've been so busy with other things the past few months that I almost forgot about my blog. That would be no tragedy. Much stranger and more surprising is how I could have forgotten, in the past few years, about two poems that had been among my favorites for several years: "A Story About the Body," by Robert Hass, and "Traveling Through the Dark," by William Stafford. How great it was when about a month ago, just out of the blue when I was washing my hair, the two poems re-entered my consciousness. It was like remembering those pink-frosted cookies in the shapes of animals from childhood, or just how fun it is to run through sprinklers in the summertime. But cookies and sprinklers are just pure fun. What's amazing is how artists can make such sad and disturbing things simultaneously so wonderful and lovely.

Robert Hass, A Story About the Body

The young composer, working that summer at an artist's colony, had watched her for a week. She was Japanese, a painter, almost sixty, and he thought he was in love with her. He loved her work, and her work was like the way she moved her body, used her hands, looked at him directly when she made amused and considered answers to his questions. One night, walking back from a concert, they came to her door and she turned to him and said, "I think you would like to have me. I would like that too, but I must tell you that I have had a double mastectomy," and when he didn't understand, "I've lost both my breasts." The radiance that he had carried around in his belly and chest cavity -- like music -- withered very quickly, and he made himself look at her when he said, "I'm sorry. I don't think I could." He walked back to his own cabin through the pines, and in the morning he found a small blue bowl on the porch outside his door. It looked to be full of rose petals, but he found when he picked it up that the rose petals were on top; the rest of the bowl -- she must have swept them from the corners of her studio -- was full of dead bees.

William Stafford, Traveling Through the Dark

Traveling through the dark I found a deer
dead on the edge of the Wilson River road.
It is usually best to roll them into the canyon:
that road is narrow; to swerve might make more dead.

By glow of the tail-light I stumbled back of the car
and stood by the heap, a doe, a recent killing;
she had stiffened already, almost cold.
I dragged her off; she was large in the belly.

My fingers touching her side brought me the reason--
her side was warm; her fawn lay there waiting,
alive, still, never to be born.
Beside that mountain road I hesitated.

The car aimed ahead its lowered parking lights;
under the hood purred the steady engine.
I stood in the glare of the warm exhaust turning red;
around our group I could hear the wilderness listen.

I thought hard for us all--my only swerving--,
then pushed her over the edge into the river.

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オテモヤン said...
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