Sunday, September 14, 2014

Abra


"Abra was ready ere I called her name;
and though I called another, Abra came."


When I was little,
the dog and I followed my father into the woods.
He was enchanted,
and he allowed me to become enchanted in turn.

The smell of wet leaves sweetly drugged me.
Black-bark trees lean across every dream I have ever had since,
like middle-aged women toweling their hair after a bath;
you look at them, witchy naked and year-rich,
and they don't blink, don't cover themselves,
they just let you decide
within yourself, girl,
whether their dark eyes have that family pull you'll know is yours to get lost in.

My father was like a 30's gangster car
if it were full of books and papers, radios and a gun moll.
He was from Schenectady, New York,
and his mother had been a local beauty to be reckoned with.
This is the daddy I like to recall--
stepping over a mossy log,
telling the dog and me about a black bear he once saw--
my atheist father in the woods, in love with God.

Here in Michigan, in the autumn,
the vines that wrap themselves around the oaks and silver maples
show themselves, 
wearing shawls with colors for the first time distinct 
from those of their lovers.
I feel it, every September,
this restless longing of a northern heart caught in an ice stream's spell
of wolf and weather, fox and freeze.
My father told me the story of the wolverines,
gone from these woods a hundred years;
loping angel-devils, my sisters,
carrying in their coats a memory I have stayed behind to find.
______

the two lines in italics are from a 1718 poem by Mathew Prior, and are also quoted in John Steinbeck's "East of Eden".

for the Real Toads mini-challenge: "September Sky". It is 41 degrees here this morning.


 

28 comments:

Grace said...

I admire the enchantment of the woods, from your father to your own growing up memories that still pulls your northern heart ~ I am specially struck with the second stanza, the smell of wet leaves, the insight of discovering yourself ~

I didn't know that you were in the Philippines before ~ Thanks for participating Shay ~

Björn Rudberg said...

To come along into the woods into the realms of wolverine and fox. This sounds a lot like the forests that we have in Sweden. I used to walk with my father too, and remember the excitement when we saw tracks of lynx just outside our house. I've actually seen wolverine once up inorganic in the Swedish mountains.

Sumana Roy said...

love the enchanted feel specially "under the impossible blue light of September skies,"...

TexWisGirl said...

fantastic imagery and a sense of wonder tinged with fear. loved it.

hedgewitch said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Kerry O'Connor said...

Enthralling! The 4th stanza is my favourite part.

Debi Swim said...

I'm so glad you kept going - it is wonderful - I got lost in the magical feel and didn't want it to end---- and you know it's in my head now, I'm keeping it there : )

Mama Zen said...

This is so beautifully rich, Shay. It smells of leather and woodsmoke and memories that I wish I had.

R.K. Garon said...

Bravo!
ZQ

Sam Edge said...

Got all the senses going with this one FB. Well done.

Cloudia said...

Awesome song choice - and you have worthily homaged it



ALOHA from Honolulu
ComfortSpiral
=^..^= . <3 . >< } } (°>

Susan said...

OwOOOO! Just love the song--had to go back and reread--and then I wished Joni Mitchell would sing yours too, maybe with the refrain of "The smell of wet leaves sweetly drugged me.
Black-bark trees lean across every dream I have ever had since ...." I see the trees now through your images bold and after-bath naked. The comparison of dad to sportscar--wow! leg up to cross the log with dog "my atheist father in the woods, in love with God." OwOOOO again. And now, with an even better refrain. This is my new favorite of yours!

Cloudia said...

my resonant version:


http://grooveshark.com/s/Urge+For+Going/3rghGw?src=5

Margaret said...

"This is the daddy I like to recall-"

and the whole last stanza is pivotal to the whole poem (at least for me) - softly reflective and at the same time so vivid and present - something that is within and burning strong. It has a strong sense of place - and I understand that as Northern Michigan (for me) is a land of enchantment.

I started googling and I found this fascinating: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fHFuJPU8CTU

Haven't watched it all but will finish it tomorrow. I can see them in my mind's eye in Northern Michigan… So sad they are gone from there.

Mr Puddy said...

When doggie follows, beware of doggie poop !

Margaret said...

On second thought, I wouldn't want my children playing in the woods with these guys around… they are tough little guys - gives you an idea how rugged N. MI used to be! Fascinating video BTW

Margaret said...

Go to 16.03 on the video… !!!

Susie Clevenger said...

This speaks to me on a personal level. I was a child of the woods. This has such vivid imagery...sights, sounds...beautiful

Shadow said...

A fairytale, Shay's version. Yip, I like this.

Lynn said...

I love that description of how she feels about September - restless longing.

Marian said...

love this... atheist in the woods in love with god. nice.

Kathryn Dyche Dechairo said...

So beautifully rich in imagery. Simply love . . .

Black-bark trees lean across every dream I have ever had since,
like middle-aged women toweling their hair after a bath;
you look at them, witchy naked and year-rich,
and they don't blink, don't cover themselves,
they just let you decide
within yourself, girl,
whether their dark eyes have that family pull you'll know is yours to get lost in.

Sioux said...

What adjective would be appropriate to describe this poem? Gorgeous? Breathtaking (and not the Seinfeld version of "breathtaking," either)? The lines...the images...This poem should be in an illustrated anthology. An artist would have a field day (ooh, kind of a lame pun) illustrating this piece.

Grandmother (Mary) said...

Moments like that, rich and memorable, were fleeting with my father as a young girl. This is such a vivid re-experiencing of time in those woods forming you to be who you are. Thanks for this.

Sherry Blue Sky said...

From the photo to the closing line, I felt every word of this poem. Especially "my atheist father in the woods, in love with God." So moving. My fave poems of yours are the ones about your childhood. So deeply felt.

Sara said...

No long comment here. Just amazement at how beautifully you write:~)

my heart's love songs said...

you always come up with an extra-special killer last line.

an enchanted tale...

Joanna Jenkins said...

Bravo!!!
"....his mother had been a local beauty to be reckoned with." Loved that and the feeling of the woods. Very cool.