Contemplating My Tribe No. 1

Contemplating My Tribe No. 1

The crackle of night crickets and soft whistle of thrushie birds bring on the day. Sounds of substance induced all-night revelry so common here in this Caribbean paradise have given way to those of the island’s other residents.

I awaken thinking how much more I enjoy the company of wild animals than that of civilized beings here. This thought embarrasses me, as though I judge myself to be arrogant for even thinking such a thing. But it is the truth. I’d rather coexist with birds and insects if the choice is between them and partying humans.

Don’t misunderstand me. I belonged to that tribe once. Perhaps that’s the point. Only I never had fun partying, even though I did plenty of it. It seems that the alcohol I consumed made the human companionship bearable, that’s all. And also, it allowed me to fall asleep (read: pass out.)

The truth is, I’m just another woodland creature masquerading as a human being now that I don’t drink anymore- I’m not really a social animal like most others of the species. I’m more like an anole lizard. I have a turf I defend, and I interact, as I must to maintain it. Mostly I’m a loner and come together with others to mate, but at this point, that’s really just a form of recreation, not procreation.

Some have suggested that I might be a member of the arachnid clan, like the golden orb spider whose gilded web is suspended like an awning over the stone stairway to my cottage. Numerous suitors, all much smaller and secondary to her existence, attend her. Her web ricochets the brilliant fire of 24 karat when the sun hits it at just the right angle. At other times, it appears ordinary gray. You might say that the sparkle is in the eye of the beholder.

The golden orb’s suitors reside at the periphery of her web, waiting for the opportunity to mount her. She calls the shots in this arrangement. Her orb, when this trick of golden light is revealed, resembles Rumplestiltskin’s spun gold thread. This is where the similarities end, though. The spinner here is definitely not the miller’s daughter waiting to be married off.

© 2010, Jennifer Pierce, All Rights Reserved

An old thought coming around again, for Zander

Here’s the start of a poem I never reworked. I’m hoping to get back to this place for a week or two before my courses start again.

This comes to me
As I turn over
And sounds come in.
I have given myself
The gift of these empty days
The indulgence of napping
When drowsiness overtakes me.
I resist halfheartedly, then recall
Because of this gift I have
Knowledge of the red spot
Above the bananaquit’s eye
As he chatters on the deck
Demanding bath water
In his teal green tray.
I hear too what I think
is a man shouting
From a long way off
On the tower up the mountain
Or the short term rental before
Or is it one of the goats
Separated from its flock
In the valley
down the gut?
In my humid stupor
These sounds come to me
amidst thankfulness for this time
I wonder, but not too much.
No rushing about accomplishing
More than is necessary, doing some things
While Missing many others, filling
More of one lifetime with tasks
Not nearly as meaningful.
This time now is
To slow down in
Rest a while
Before speeding up again.
Why hurry?
I hear it again now,
It is sleep calling.

Erosion

This is a poem I wrote quickly last May. It seems fitting to posit if after phone conversations with residents of St. John, and looking at some news photos of Coral Bay after Otto’s rains have washed down the hills.

Rainstorm Where Man Has Been

Oh the agony
of a simple rain storm.
The gut
runs wild with pleasure
among the boulders
unaware
carrying bits of earth
seaward
runs earth stained
and soil saturated
seaward
engorged with the flesh
of the hillside
where this small gash
and that one too
has bled out
revealing
scoured wounds
in the gravel roadbed.
Even the trees shiver
and weep  for the lost earth.

© 2010 Jennifer Pierce

Pulling Weeds Volume 1

Birdsong, Windsong, Rock Bottom Farm

A family of chickadees calling back and forth in the firs brings to mind my parents’ penchant for feeding the birds, and my own history.

It is a steamy August afternoon. Even so, one element in a monochromatic winter scene becomes as vivid as the cadmium yellow gloriosa daisies in the overgrown herb garden where I am weeding.

I pull cloud grass from around the daisy seedlings that will bring next year’s flowers. Instead of a fist full of weeds, I suddenly see the cup of my own hand full of sunflower seeds. My arm is outstretched from a body as still as a stump. My fingers are curved into a bright pink bowl. Along with this image comes the recognition that this is something my father taught me to do, though I don’t remember him ever doing it himself.

I am hand feeding the chickadees.

In this summer garden I become again a child standing on the snow-covered arc of stone wall by the back door at our family home called Windsong. The four trunked birch tree is on my left, the same side as the sunrise. Chickadees are flitting from the twigs above my head, calling to one another. Then, with the magic of memory, decades pass and I am here at Rock Bottom Farm in Maine. I am fifty, standing in my own yard not far from where I’m weeding. Three birches are on my right, the side where the sun sets. From the distance comes the sound, chick-dee-dee. I continue to slide into this reverie where everything is connected.

Tentatively a gang of birds moves closer to investigate. I think of it as a cheerful mob. After several nervous passes, one bird overcomes its fear. Its wings nearly brush my head as it comes in to land. At the last minute it beats wind furiously and in a flash of reluctance, returns to a nearby twig.

I know from experience that if I wait long enough, it will return. All that is required is patience and alertness. I remember this, and the chickadees oblige. One by one they drop from the branches and land on the pad of my bright pink palm.

In time the birds become choosy. They begin to shuffle through the seeds, testing for plumpness. They carry away only the choicest ones, those full morsels that will sustain them through the hungry days ahead.

© 2010 Jennifer M. Pierce, All Rights Reserved