Thursday, February 17, 2011

Weathering Out with Rita Dove--Mercy, Mercy Me #4

Number 4 in Urban Ecology's Black History Month Series:

The word ecology is such a big word, encompassing what we refer to as the nature: wildlife, flora, fauna;  but also our towns and cities, the built environment, and the micro-climates of our bodies and spirit. Our bodies are eco-systems and for our forebears, even the ancestors shaped and inhabited what we know of as the natural world (still true for some of us today).

Rita Dove, U.S. Poet Laureate from 1993 to 1995, native of Akron, Ohio, weaves all these elements together in her poem Weathering Out from her Pulitzer Prize winning book of poems, Thomas and Beulah.

Weathering Out

by Rita Dove

Akron brick streetscape

She liked mornings the best—Thomas gone
to look for work, her coffee flushed with milk,
outside autumn trees blowsy and dripping.
Past the seventh month she couldn’t see her feet
so she floated from room to room, houseshoes flapping,
navigating corners in wonder. When she leaned
against a doorjamb to yawn, she disappeared entirely.
Last week they had taken a bus at dawn
to the new airdock. The hangar slid open in segments
The BZB in Anacostia
and the zeppelin nosed forward in its silver envelope.
The men walked it out gingerly, like a poodle,
then tied it to a mast and went back inside.
Beulah felt just that large and placid, a lake;
she glistened from cocoa butter smoothed in
when Thomas returned every evening nearly
in tears. He’d lean an ear on her belly
and say: Little fellow’s really talking,
though to her it was more the pok-pok-pok
of a fingernail tapping a thick cream lampshade.
Sometimes during the night she woke and found him
asleep there and the child sleeping, too.
The coffee was good but too little. Outside
everything shivered in tinfoil—only the clover
between the cobblestones hung stubbornly on,
green as an afterthought . . .

1 comment:

  1. ah, so here is the source of your ankle worries! (mine look pretty normal most of the time, fwiw, and i can see them just fine -- that's what mirrors are for.)

    a lovely poem. thank you. i have been looking around here for the stubborn little green things. thank heavens for chickweed and periwinkle.


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