Photo: Dan Addison, UVA

As I write this I am looking out of a window in an air conditioned (!) Barnes & Noble in Houston. I have just seen a crow.  Once again I am reminded of how Lisa Russ Spaar can take the particular and poetically turn it into the pertinent, the powerful, the universal.

It is snowing where I live. The shops of Houston are air conditioned as I visit. Some one of our readers in Florida is possibly applying sun protection before a beach walk. Another is drying off after last week’s California rains. And one is even having a birthday in London.

What is true of all of us is that we have been united for all of January by our great good fortune in reading a poet-in-residence as wise, as generous, as soaring of spirit and grounded in truth as Lisa Spaar, whose gloss on the poem you can see below, after the poem itself.  I bemoan the ending of this month  and at the same time celebrate this one more poem for us to take to heart.
(Laura Baudo Sillerman)

Crows, Rt. 29

Wind shifts the power line,
repairing our dark quarrel, slurred

& loaded above the rushing hour.
Our narrator is melancholy.

She rarely weeps, & mostly like this,
in the car, an intake as though to speak,

then not.  At the border,
let’s return her name, if we can.

Take it back, take it back,
she once cried, straddling her sister.
Undertow, abacus of blood
and haloed headlamps below: make silence.

At the signal, let us bellow
our call,  awe, awe, awe.

“‘Crows’ was an experiment in allowing crows hunched against wind on a power line overlooking a line of traffic at rush hour to speak, in an kind of metaphysical way, for the speaker of the lyric (“our narrator” — a woman in a car at approaching a stoplight where the crows are perched, musing) — a way of allowing the prescient otherness of the animal to address the speaker’s interiority, her “melancholy,” with what I hope is a welcome and refreshing distance.  I was, of course, talking back in some ways, in homage, to the wonderful anonymous ballad “The Twa Corbies,” with its haunting final couplet:  “O’er his banes, when they are bare, / The wind shall blow for evermair.”  I liked the idea of turning the sadness stalking the ballad and my poem into a kind of beauty (“abacus of blood / and haloed headlamps”), a cause for awe.

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  • Dakota January 29, 2010 at 5:31 pm

    Enjoyable site, interesting topics and I will enjoy returning

  • Poetry Friday: Crows « Elizabeth Willse January 29, 2010 at 11:04 am

    […] Read Lisa Russ Spaar’s poem and some afterthoughts at Women’s Voices For Change. Published in: […]