Monday, January 9, 2012

Tuesday Poem--In the New Year

The holidays done with, I can breathe again. January 1st is always like

an endless rolling pasture of pristine snow, acres completely unmarked

but for a chickadee’s delicate scrimshaw, a pure field on which I can hike

into happiness, love, a clean path, without the torques my life usually takes:

this time, things will be different. Bright blue high tide makes a little lake

of the inlet. I sit on the bank and smooth out a new page in my notebook.

A Laughing Gull hovers over the sea wall, a dripping clam clenched in his beak,

letting fall the shell which breaks open when dropped from a height onto rock.

He caws proudly, struts, circling his prey in yellow, pigeon-toed feet, picks 

jerkily at the salty belly. Above us, a wheeling falcon waits, eyes unerring, black. 

Then, fast as a feathered shaft, he gouges the gull’s foolish white neck,

the hawk’s jaw and pincer-grip talons killing the bird in one lethal shake.

Bloody feathers fly, some of the wound striping my hair and book. I shriek,

leap up to slap off the gore, appalled--shell-shocked that nature could break

in upon my reverie on nature. Suddenly, the marsh seems malevolent, dark

with a darkness I’ve never felt here, the phragmites nodding by the dock

as if to say, what did you think? Sudden pellets of snow are unendurable. I duck 

into my collar, complicit, for home, the carcass lying broken as the indigo dusk.


  1. A very thought-provoking post Melissa. A very graphic poem. Liked it a lot.

  2. Dear Kathleen, nice to see you here. Yes, it is graphic, but nature can be, can't? Glad you liked it.Thank you.

  3. hi melissa, i guess what i am most impressed with here is that you were privy to the actual hawk attack. i have come across the evidence of that ...the carcass, the scatter of feathers....and wondered who did what to whom and why. (susan t. landry: avian murder detective...think it will fly (excuse me) on network TV? we can call it Bird Brain. sorry...).
    i also like the realization that nature is not content to stay to its pretty, picturesque place, where we mortals prefer it to be, but intrudes with all its messiness, it's bottom line.
    a quite wonderful experience, all in all. and conveyed as the drama it is.

  4. ...ITS bottom line. a knife in the heart to see my own hasty punctuation mistakes. grrrrr.

  5. Dear Susan, yes, there I was, perched on a rock like some fictive Pre-Raphaelite beauty, langurously sighing over the innocent beauty of nature, and then BAM--all kind of ideas were shattered that day, and a good thing it was, all in all. Irony is now accessible, among other things. Thank you, Susan, as always, for your comments. xo

  6. Oh I adore this piece. It is life of course isn't it.
    And hello. And it will take me a bit of time to catch up. But I perch, ready for this New Year.

  7. Melissa- I feel like my new year is just beginning. The holidays long past, but the most grueling time of year (mid-terms) for the children. And me! Now, I'm catching up with reading. Finally.

    This piece is marvelous. Images, like the "chickadee’s delicate scrimshaw" instantly made me feel serene. But my how nature can change so quickly. And to be so closely affected, so bloodily affected!, is profound. I'm so glad you opened that curtain for us--to the other side. While it's a gory scene, and it shook you, certainly, you brought to the reader all the contrasts of true life, the beauty, the beasts, the rawness of nature. What do you think? I love that question. ;)

  8. Dear deb, I'm glad you liked this--yes, it is life, like it or not. And not to worry about catching up--the poems are here for the duration and you can dip into them whenever you have a mind to. xo

  9. Dear Jayne, I hope you can relax, now that the chaos is past. I myself was daydreaming of the beauty of the Nature, forgetting it is not always beneficent, and no one was more shocked that I was to be caught in the natural grisliness of it--and clearly it was a case of 'What did you think the world was really like, you silly woman?" A lesson I dearly needed to learn again, for real. xo