Friday, April 24, 2009

This week, the poetry community mourns the passing of Deborah Digges. A poet after my own heart, Digges's work is described thusly by the Academy of American Poets

"Her poems often rely on the relationship between humans and nature, the primitive urges of discovery and rediscovery, and the physical consequences of such momentary losses of the self." 

I'd like to share with you one of Digges's earlier poems, an exemplary sample of her archaeologically investigative style and reverence for nature:

Darwin’s Finches
My mother always called it a nest,
the multi-colored mass harvested
from her six daughters' brushes, 
and handed it to one of us
after she had shaped it, as we sat in front 
of the fire drying our hair.
She said some birds steal anything, a strand 
of spider's web, or horse's mane,
the residue of sheep's wool in the grasses 
near a fold
where every summer of her girlhood 
hundreds nested.
Since then I've seen it for myself, their genius—
how they transform the useless.
I've seen plastics stripped and whittled   
into a brilliant straw,
and newspapers—the dates, the years—
supporting the underweavings.

As tonight in our bed by the window 
you brush my hair to help me sleep, and clean

the brush as my mother did, offering 
the nest to the updraft.
I'd like to think it will be lifted as far
as the river, and catch in some white sycamore,
or drift, too light to sink, into the shaded inlets, 
the bank-moss, where small fish, frogs, and insects
lay their eggs. 
Would this constitute an afterlife?
The story goes that sailors, moored for weeks 
off islands they called paradise,
stood in the early sunlight 
cutting their hair. And the rare
birds there, nameless, almost extinct, 
came down around them
and cleaned the decks 
and disappeared into the trees above the sea   

I'd also like to take this opportunity to announce that the regular features of this blog will be suspended next week in order to bring friends and family a long-awaited photo essay on my trip to the Galapagos. Have patience, folks, it's on its way.

1 comment:

susanmuses said...

Beautiful poem. Thank you for introducing me to her work.