Thursday, March 19, 2009

The Lesson of the Loon

Mark Doty is a writer of award-winning, elegant poetry and prose, and while I have not met the man in real life, I imagine him to be as thoughtful and collected as his work. What a surprise, then, to read about his recent hate experience in San Francisco's North Beach. Why this type of violent hatred continues to be perpetuated, I don't know. It makes me sad, deep down, to think about what we do to each other. So I turned to Doty's work to find a source of hope. I found this:

from Atlantis

5. COASTAL

Cold April and the neighbor girl
—our plumber’s daughter—
comes up the wet street

from the harbor carrying,
in a nest she’s made
of her pink parka,

a loon. It’s so sick,
she says when I ask.
Foolish kid,

does she think she can keep
this emissary of air?
Is it trust or illness

that allows the head
—sleek tulip—to bow
on its bent stem

across her arm?
Look at the steady,
quiet eye. She is carrying

the bird back from indifference,
from the coast
of whatever rearrangement

the elements intend,
and the loon allows her.
She is going to call

the Center for Coastal Studies,
and will swaddle the bird
in her petal-bright coat

until they come.
She cradles the wild form.
Stubborn girl.

We should all care for each other in this stubborn, selfless way. The entire poem can be found in Doty's Atlantis: Poems, or on the Poetry Foundation website.

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