Sunday, January 18, 2009

In Honor of the Cardinals, Super Bowl Bound

We're celebrating in Arizona like it's 1999, or rather 2009, the year the Arizona Cardinals finally make it to the Super Bowl. In honor of that momentous occasion, and because I doubt that many poems have been dedicated to that, or any, football team, I present one of my favorites, from my teacher so many moons ago:

Cardinal Directions

by R.T. Smith

In the body of the cardinal
who hops along the tamarack limbs,
cathedrals are collapsing. Whole
worlds are falling, exhausted
stars and dialects no one left
can translate. This crested finch,
red as the last cannas
wilting, is famished. He scavenges
in a dry season for pods,
cold grubs, any scrap to sharpen
his beak or hone his sight,

and also within me the tree
of bones is giving way
to gravity, the tree of nerves
surrending, memory's tree
releasing its leaves, though my
eyes are still seeds looking
for fertile soil, and the one bird
heavy in my chest, the cardinal
heart, still has ambitions
to forage, sing the litany
beyond language, and fly.

-- from The Cardinal Heart, 1991

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