Monday, October 1, 2012

My Life & The Study Of Birds

I have devoted my life to the study of birds,
though they study me but little--
they are not sentimental that way.

Heavy as a field stone, I have sat and watched them circle
until I feel lifted, myself.
I catalog, I question, I make sketches,
but just lately and often,
my pen drops from my dangling hand, and I wake up hours later with the sun going down
and my work never finished.

I concern myself with genus, markings, and range.
They concern themselves with the ripeness of plums barely hanging on to branches
or already on the ground.
They concern themselves with hollowed-out trees or woven nests;
I concern myself with questions I can never truly understand the answers to,
even should I blunder across them.

There is a whirling, in the lateness of my days--
an oversharpening of the air, particularly in the early morning.
It was this time of year when you last came to see me,
and removed the sterling silver cuff I had given you,
with its delicate black flock flying from wrist bone to pulse point,
and set it upon my bed.
You told me that I was your heart,
but that you could never come back to me again.

I have devoted my life to the study of birds,
but anymore, my mind wanders.
There is only one thing I notice now, and that is the way that the autumn birds have
of relinquishing a deficient, unsustainable world
without a thought.
Instinct drives them, they simply lift, as one, and wheel,
spinning for a moment above my foolish head,
and then departing,
growing smaller until they are indistinguishable
soundless
phantoms,
as ephemeral as my breath in the chilly air.

_______

for Flipside's word list # 14 and Real Toads open link Monday.

33 comments:

Sherry Blue Sky said...

A spectacular poem, Shay, sad, and lovely, with the mental image of the birds wheeling as one across the sky.....and such a beautiful bracelet. Sigh.

hedgewitch said...

This one winds almost lazily through the spires of dream and memory, asking and only occasionally answering, painting pictures of loss, and of a hard-come-by understanding of the ways of the wind, by which surely, all birds learn the art of flying. A lovely piece, Shay, with sorrow, loss and acceptance all in balance.

Grandmother said...

So touching and utterly lovely. Astute observations in nature that lead to acceptance of what is, including loss described in that tender scene. I love this.

Marian said...

oh yes, i love this one, too, so achey and piney. i too concern myself with birds (and other creatures) who don't give a whit for me.

flipside records said...

This is heartbreaking and dripping with pain and loss. I love the way you describe your study of birds in general terms and then move to the section on just the one, completely changing our understanding of your verse.

"though they study me but little" ... An awful feeling, that must be. To feel of little to no consequence.

"until I feel lifted, myself" ... No wonder you watch them so intensely.

"but just lately and often,
my pen drops from my dangling hand" ... Such a matter of import for an artist, this change in ability to focus.

"with the sun going down
and my work never finished" ... This is so beautiful, so sorrowful.

"They concern themselves with the ripeness of plums" ... How could you compete with such instinctive needs? Even if they occasionally glance your way with some interest, there is always the matter of finding food.

"an oversharpening of the air" ... As an observer, your senses are painfully heightened, I suppose. You probably often have headaches.

This is my favorite part: "and removed the sterling silver cuff I had given you,
with its delicate black flock flying from wrist bone to pulse point, and set it upon my bed"

And also this: "You told me that I was your heart" ... Until you go and spoil it with the following line.

I love that you return to the beginning by repeating this line: "I have devoted my life to the study of birds"

Oh wow, this is excellent: "There is only one thing I notice now, and that is the way that the autumn birds have
of relinquishing a deficient, unsustainable world
without a thought"

I love your ending as well: "growing smaller until they are indistinguishable
soundless
phantoms,
as ephemeral as my breath in the chilly air"

Now I'm off to pick up my daughter from preschool ... concerning myself with woven nests, you might say.

Kerry O'Connor said...

I have devoted my life to the study of birds,
though they study me but little--

I love these opening lines! They remind me of Dickinson's wry view of the world.

And this has to be one of the most strikingly poignant observations I have read in a very long time:

There is only one thing I notice now, and that is the way that the autumn birds have
of relinquishing a deficient, unsustainable world
without a thought.

Above all, the way you have captured the sense of alone, is stunning, and painful in its familiarity.

Abin Chakraborty said...

genuinely beautiful.it doesnt have ur usual razzmatazz, that crazy, gritty, edgy starkness which I generally love.but this has its unique charm.one of those timeless pieces that will be as good twenty years later.brilliant.

Ella said...

I loved your poem~ You capture the nature of people, also known as phantoms. How they move in and out of our lives, leaving touch stones of memories~
The ending really was filled with the mystery of wonder~

"Instinct drives them, they simply lift, as one, and wheel,
spinning for a moment above my foolish head,
and then departing,
growing smaller until they are indistinguishable
soundless
phantoms,
as ephemeral as my breath in the chilly air."

TexWisGirl said...

that was beautiful. melancholy but with such imagery of nature, too.

Audrey Howitt aka Divalounger said...

What a gorgeous write. So clear, and sad, but ultimately feeling the reality of things, and for me--that is always hopeful

razzamadazzle said...

Amazing! I love the easy way this flows. Truly we could take a lesson from the birds leaving when there is nothing left for us.

Laura said...

"Heavy as a field stone, I have sat and watched them circle
until I feel lifted, myself." one of many beautiful lines here... full of wonder and tinged with sadness... so glad I stopped by today.

Hannah said...

I love that the birds bother not to concern themselves with us for they're not sentimental....

I love this:

"Heavy as a field stone, I have sat and watched them circle
until I feel lifted, myself."

I've SO been there.

These words were made for this piece, Shay!!

Enjoyed much! See you on the Flipside! ;)

Far Beyond The Ridge said...

This is really tender, soft and sweet~a nice lil diversion from your gangsta motif. Who are you, and what'd you do with shay?
I loved~black flock flying from wrist bone to pulse point.
Friggen brilliant!
This truly was gorgeous, shay, through and through.
And the way you departed then returned to the birds was seamless.
Really good
~rick

Scott said...

There's been a whirling around here too. The cuff is beautiful.

wkkortas said...

The last line is perfect--the last few really, as the piece does a wonderful and wonderfully consistent and persistent job of juxtaposing the rational/artificial/unnatural with the instinctual/natural/ostensibly unstructured. Fine, fine writing.

Cloudia said...

O M G.

Truly spectacular

pleasing and deep in SO many facets


PLEASE submit/share/distribute widely to touch others this pleasingly.



Aloha from Honolulu,
Wishing YOU the Best
Comfort Spiral
=^..^=

> < } } ( ° >

Mary said...

Cannot add anything to what has been said before, Shay. An impressive poem. So much of what I might add would seem trite in the light of what has been said before.

Susie Clevenger said...

What can I say, but this is perfection. You scribble and study the birds and they follow the ancient call doing what they have always done.

myheartslovesongs.com said...

stunning! but what else should we expect from you? you set the bar high, even for yourself, Missy! {smile}

Lynn said...

Whirling - how lovely.

Shadow said...

this one is soft and gentle, hovering in the air like a hummingbird...

Susan said...

"There is only one thing I notice now, and that is the way that the autumn birds have
of relinquishing a deficient, unsustainable world
without a thought."

Yes, as a breathe leaves, as flowers die, as tasks fade unfinished!

"Heavy as a field stone, I have sat and watched them circle
until I feel lifted, myself."

But sometimes, that doesn't work and the job does not get done. Naturally.

Beautifully carved.

Laurie Kolp said...

What a wonderful capture on so many levels... the birds, the loss, the things that really matter in life, the dreams. Love this one!

Kim Nelson said...

Could be a modern-day parable, Shay, honing in on our focus.

Kim Nelson said...

Could be a modern-day parable, Shay, honing in on our focus.

Mama Zen said...

This is the loveliness that seems to remain just off the fingertips of mortals. Damn.

Buddah Moskowitz said...

Beautiful and sad and wistful - a wonderful write.

sharplittlepencil.com said...

Flip, this is wonderful writing. The birds' agenda so different from yours; yet, they give you an inner gift of flight.

The segue into relationship, the single cufflink... as though the other link is him/his to keep, while you have your half, or is it perhaps your half of him? That idea intrigued me. The birds wind it up in the spiral skyward... stunning.

Peace, Amy (glad to be back after Computer Hell...) http://sharplittlepencil.com/2012/10/02/slp-is-back-creative-juices/

Fireblossom said...

SLP--Flip didn't write it, I did. Flip provided the word list.

Rick.Daddario said...

aloha FireBlossom - your way of words is well worth reading. it lingers and catches in the corners of my skull - so that i am sitting in that field. watching those birds and memories and emptiness and letting go. never mind the never ending study - letting go.

well and awesome writing.

aloha.

Lolamouse said...

I love the bird imagery (and I covet that cuff!) Your poem made me get all weepy. Perfect fit for my October blues.

Lydia said...

33rd comment to validate how special this is!