"As kingfishers catch fire, dragonflies draw flame; / [ . . . ] Each mortal thing does one thing and the same: / Deals out that being indoors each one dwells; / Selves -- goes itself; 'myself' it speaks and spells, / Crying 'What I do is me; for that I came'." --Gerard Manley Hopkins

23 January 2007

Caged Bird

I have rediscovered Polishing the Petoskey Stone, a collection of poetry by Luci Shaw. Strangely, even though I love her work, I hadn't read but a few poems in it after picking it up at the used bookstore last summer. It had even been placed on top of my roll-top desk with other oft-read favorites, where still it waited unnoticed until a couple of evenings ago.

This is why I needed it right now, as I am contemplating the nature of suffering and our response to it:

Caged bird

whose eye,
bead-bright,
no longer
scans the sky --
whose sleek
shape, carved
for flight,
is shrouded
by a pall
of wire --
whose beak
sorts millet,
never finds
the sun-filled
film and fire
of insect wings,
nor worm's wry
juice: his
trinities
of claws grip
steel,
ache for real
bark, and the
fling of winds
and trees.

Birdness
blunted
by thin chrome,
he learns
all summer long
to sing
newly, to poem
his stunted
narrowness
in one long,
strong,
ascending,
airborne, sun-
colored wing
of song.

3 comments:

Cindy said...

I think this was the first of her books that I ever bought and read. It was also the first literary contemporary Christian poetry I found, having been taught unequivocally that well written Christian poetry was totally nonexistant, that the two adjectives were mutually incompatable, in fact.

"Highway Song for February 14", although I'm certainly not fond of rhyming couplets, necessarily, is one of my favorites, simply for its tender subject matter.

alaiyo said...

I like "Highway Song" too -- a lovely poem which somehow avoids being schmaltzy despite the form, which sometimes lends itself to schamltz (is that a word?!).

Cindy said...

It is now.

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