Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Family Poems

It's time for some poetry, again. I listened to an interview with Carol Lynn Pearson, and I related to this poem she read.


My people were Mormon pioneers.
Is the blood still good?
They stood by in awe as truth
Flew by like a dove
And dropped a feather in the West.
Where truth flies you follow
If you are a pioneer.

I have searched the skies
And now and then
Another feather has fallen.
I have packed the handcart again
Packed it with the precious things
And thrown away the rest.

I will sing by the fires at night
Out there on uncharted ground
Where I am my own captain of tens
Where I blow the bugle
Bring myself to morning prayer
Map out the miles
And never know when or where
Or if at all
I will finally say,
“This is the place,”

I face the plains
On a good day for walking.
The sun rises
And the mist clears.
I will be alright:
My people were Mormon pioneers.


I think I like a bit of melodrama, and I certainly did in the past. Some of the language of my next poem reflects that, but my poem, and the one from my brother that inspired it, are family relationship poems, so I think they are fitting to pair with "Pioneers." I'll admit, I still find some pleasure in my brother's flattery.

To a Brother
Andrew G. Cannon

I’ve always felt this way;
Like a spring, bubbling and rumpling
over your rock;
Like a wind, laugh-whistling
through your mountain canyons.
And I’m doing it again:
too much stagger and swoon,
too much caper and fancy, loose-foot step.
When I think of you,
I’m still.
I’d gladly be an Aaron,
to your Moses.

Brother Tree, Brother Bird

How are you strong? What are the depths
That my eyes can’t see that your roots have conquered?
How can you day after day hold so firm
Your reaching branches, so straight your trunk?
How can you lose your leaves and patiently
Wait month after month their return?
What essence flows in your veins that year
After year makes you grow and bud and blossom?
As I flit here and there through your shade,
Like one more shadow of your windblown leaves,
What makes you constant?

You wrong yourself my unsure brother.
Don’t you remember we grew together?
My trunk grew straight, your wings grew strong,
My leaves spread wide, your eyesight long.

You see the stream that feeds my soul?
It’s the same that feeds yours—the very same.
I draw what it whispers down through the earth
That it carries so cleanly from distant hills;
You gather its joy as it laughs and twirls
And channels the words of messenger clouds.

It is true that my heart is bound in the earth
So that all who know me can find me and rest,
And they call me constant, they call me calm,
They call me strong, they call me friend.

You think you’re inconstant because your feet
Have only scratched the hard brown earth
And never taken root to send
Your body straining towards the light,
But you wrong yourself, my doubting friend.

You forget the wind, the wind that I
Can barely touch when it comes to me.
The wind that makes me desire to soar
So near the sun where you often go.
Yes, maybe you’re not gone for long
And always return to my waiting branches,
But you carry back a taste of the light
That my patient branches cry out to possess,
And my tormented roots, that seem so strong,
Drive down for the hold to free their hope
And throw their branches to the sky
Where all will see as they now watch and marvel
At you, soaring and circling in the light
And on the wind that you possess,
Which I can only feel as, rustling,
It passes me by.

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