Sunday, July 10, 2005

No Rain, But Fire

Dry here since the last gluttonous downpour. What was welcome as rain here, however, also brought flames to the Santa Rita Mountains, where a fire now asps along the steep ravines south of Tucson. We can see the eerie, entrancing glow from the edge of our neighborhood this evening.

Speaking of glowing and radiance, I just finished reading Cynthia Huntington's The Radiant, a collection of poems as powerful as its title. Cynthia was kind enough to do a book swap with me, and I'm afraid I think I got the better end of the deal.

I have many favorites---enough to fill an entire book, you might say---but here's one I keep coming back to:


The new green and the old green.
The sick bird on the beach.
The seal that dove and did not come up.
The dead things washed to shore.
What is this shore we keep claiming,
returning again and again?
We call it a place of safety, we go toward it,
there where the dead meet the air.
The curve of the world, who made it?
The arcing line of the driftwood branch,
its pallor of grey, its shimmer of white.
The grass in the wind, and the journey
outward, pulling us out of ourselves.
Waves flung up and down,
white water, black wing, whales singing
and diving into the dark.
Shells along shore,
dead branches standing up
among the green leaves. What
is memory? Who stays to mourn?
It seems we feel so much
and then we die. The marsh hawk
veers over the grass, listening.
Her wings tilt to let the air turn her.
All this turning, falling back.
I remember
when I lay down to sleep,
how the wind played over me.
I felt it separate my bones,
counting them over and over.

-- Cynthia Huntington


Suzanne said...

Isn't it just wonderful, Simmons? I love The Radiant, too.

Simmons B. Buntin said...

Definitely. And Cynthia's blog posts are pretty powerful, too.