Sunday, August 31, 2014

Coincidence, or not?

Once upon a time, not very long ago, in a place not very far away, I didn't believe in coincidence. Now, here, today, I'm not so sure.

Last weekend my Better Half and I drove to Hackensack, MN to check out the Northwoods Art & Book Fair. I had submitted some work to their 7th Annual Poetry Recognition Event and was looking forward to doing my first public reading of a poem I had written to an audience neither friends nor relatives. As a related part of the event, the Northwoods Art Council distributed to those at the reading small pieces of paper with poems on them, inspired by the Academy of American Poets "Poem in your Pocket" Day. The poems were distributed using a collection basket from the church in which the reading was held. When the basket reached me, I took the top piece of paper without even glancing at the poem. I was preoccupied because I was scheduled to read next.

osprey in flight
River Presence
Photo by J. Harrington

This is one of the poems I read (but not the one that was a Popular Choice winner).


This summer valley is river-full, fish-full, tree-full.
Tall trees in which I perch, rest, watch, nest.
           Until I hover in the air
                    Above the fish-full river.

Until—I plummet: air to water.
Talons full, wet, stunned, I arise.
My young wait, in a tall tree nest, to be fed.
Then, they rest. I rest. I am osprey.

My family shares with you
         this valley, this river,
                 the fish, the trees, the air,
                             our homes.

John Harrington
Now, don't jump to the conclusion that I'm comparing the quality of my poetry with that by Lord Alfred Tennyson. I'm just wondering if you think it was a coincidence (or not) that the poem I pulled from the collection basket was:

The Eagle

Lord Alfred Tennyson, 1809 - 1892

He clasps the crag with crooked hands;
Close to the sun in lonely lands,
Ringed with the azure world, he stands.

The wrinkled sea beneath him crawls;
He watches from his mountain walls,
And like a thunderbolt he falls.
When I had finished my reading and looked at the poem in my pocket selection, I was delighted by the "coincidence" between my poem and my collection basket selection.

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