Friday, April 27, 2018

Flyover Country? #NationalPoetryMonth

We were born and raised on the East Coast. Most of our adult life has been lived in Minnesota -- "flyover country" to most East Coasters. We've been trying to adapt and become naturalized for the entire time we've lived here. Poetry has helped us find our way, often through the kind of associations and serendipity poetry is know for. Today's posting provides one example.

yesterday's pasque flower
yesterday's pasque flower
Photo by J. Harrington

Sometime after this is posted, we're headed toward the Baraboo area to visit the Aldo Leopold Foundation and the International Crane Foundation. Yesterday we first noticed one of our back yard pasque flowers blooming. We suspect it started blooming while the vernal pool not 100 feet away was still locked in ice. We live in a land of contrasts. Anyhow, we wanted to post the photo above so we started looking for a poem about pasque flowers but couldn't find anything that appealed. Pasque flowers often grow uphill from wetter country that also attracts sandhill cranes. Poking about the internet, we serendipitously found a newspaper column by one of our favorite poets, who happens to be from flyover country, in which he shared a poem by a Native American about sandhill cranes.

sandhill cranes in flight
sandhill cranes in flight
Photo by J. Harrington

Pasque flowers, sandhill cranes, Ted Kooser et. al., we're noticing that "flyover country" has a number of indigenous pleasures that aren't native to Massachusetts. Maybe we're finally starting to settle in to our second "home."

Life In Poetry: Poet Writes About Magic Of Sandhill Cranes

BY TED KOOSER U.S. Poet Laureate

This column originates in Nebraska, and our office is about two hours’ drive from that stretch of the Platte River where thousands of sandhill cranes stop for a few weeks each year. Linda Hogan, one of our most respected Native writers and Writer in Residence for The Chickasaw Nation, perfectly captures their magic and mystery in this fine poem.

The Sandhills  

The language of cranes
we once were told
is the wind. The wind
is their method,
their current, the translated story
of life they write across the sky.
Millions of years
they have blown here
on ancestral longing,
their wings of wide arrival,
necks long, legs stretched out
above strands of earth
where they arrive
with the shine of water,
stories, interminable
language of exchanges
descended from the sky
and then they stand,
earth made only of crane
from bank to bank of the river
as far as you can see
the ancient story made new.

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