Academic journal article Michigan Quarterly Review

The Tanagers

Academic journal article Michigan Quarterly Review

The Tanagers

Article excerpt

1.

The year's first made me gasp,

a pure yellow

glossed and preened and fed,

the yellow of joy.

Then the tanager disappeared,

flew to the top of a towering pine.

Even in the blaze of its glory

it was invisible to me,

though I could hear it singing.

Having returned,

the tanager will await each day

at the edge of this clearing,

this column of warmth and light,

for the mosquitoes, mayflies, dragonflies,

which will rise spinning, glinting,

ascending on the warming updraft,

the pulse and breath of light.

The lemon-yellow tanager waits for them,

and sings his joy, cries out with excitement

at this steady upwelling of bounty.

There is no room for sorrow.

2.

In the olden days, when Man and Beast

were closer together, we were used

interchangeably, strapped into treadmill

existence, fitted with yoke and harness,

and made or coaxed or driven or pushed

to ascend the same set of wooden paddlewheel

steps, pulley-belts squeaking and oiled cogs

groaning, to turn the same horizontal

bar that jutted down from the same vertical shaft.

To grind corn, to lift stone, to scoop water,

to drill rock; to propel a boat across the

unmapped ocean, to dig ditches, and later

to provide light, and even warmth. …

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