Thursday, May 29, 2008

They did report a low moaning and wailing of words that they described to their superiors as Pique, Pique, please Pique.

I just had a blast going birdwatching with the delightful and gracious Gary Snyder along with a few other friendly folks at Montrose Point; he was in town to receive the Ruth Lilly prize.

We saw yellow warblers, orioles, red-winged blackbirds, and a few other migrants mixed in with the woodpeckers, cardinals, robins, swallows, and other Chi regulars. There was naturally talk of poets - Pound and Bunting, Spicer and Rexroth, and also our mutual hero, Robert Bringhurst... but mostly it was a simple occasion of late spring delight by the lake.

At one point, a Chicago police officer wearing a bulletproof vest approached us; for a moment or so, we thought we'd done something terribly illegal, but no - he wanted to tell us about some unusual sightings earlier in the day. This must be the only big city in the country where such an incredible thing can take place - a notable change from events forty years ago here. Of course, as with everything in Chicago, Montrose Point has an exceedingly strange backstory!

You know, sometimes (thank the muses) the wrong poem comes to mind; here are lines that are not about May, nor were they written by Snyder, but which flitted through my thoughts like those swallows through the branches:

Not to skip detail, such as finches brisking
on stripped haw-bush;
the watered gold that February drains
out of the overcast; nomadic aconites
that in their trek recover beautifully
our sense of place,
the snowdrop fettled on its hinge, waxwings
becoming sportif in the grimy air.

That's Geoffrey Hill, yet I doubt Gary would object in the slightest.

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