Interesting how one event follows another. Yesterday afternoon as I was driving past the dump, the sun was so blinding that the resident ravens, perhaps thirteen of them, went crazy flying in a circle overhead, shifting back and forth between clockwise and counter-clockwise. I thought of Wallace Steven’s “Thirteen Ways of Looking at a Blackbird,” and how when I was a middle school teacher that poem had inspired me to write one about a student, a lonely black-haired girl who ate lunch in my room each day to avoid the horror of being rejected by her peers.
And then this morning, as I was reading comments on a post I published yesterday, I found the following from *jdawg, a fine writer and one of my former middle school colleagues.
“So many ways of being present–reminds of Wallace Stevens and those blackbirds.”
This old poem’s for you, jd.
RAVEN TURNS THIRTEEN
Under endless indigo clouds,
shines a ray of hope
in Raven’s new gold lip-ring.
She feels fractured,
as if Gorky
had painted her as a raven.
Raven on a bike darts through
puddles mirroring leafless branches.
Two cat-eared girls in the hallway
A girl and a girl and Raven
She does not know which to prefer,
the confusion of connections,
or the safety of silence,
a raven mimicking crows,
or only imagining.
Rain slams against the classroom window,
like tiny birds crashing into glass.
Raven’s lip-ring flickers
like the lone candle on a cake
she is drawing. Her inaudible voice
hums happy birthday.
O crowing kids of Fairhaven,
why do you imagine you are the only birds?
Do you not see a raven
waiting in the shadows
for even the tiniest bits of your garbage?
She hears whispers
and vulgar, undeniable rumors;
but she knows, too,
that ravens can mimic every bird,
or choose not to.
at the edge of a circle,
she is invisible.
At the sight of her ravens
reading Twilight under florescent lights,
the librarian, an old bird herself,
She flies to the sick room.
Once, when fear pierced her
like a glass knife
the nurse mistook it for indigestion
and sent Raven back to class.
The bell is ringing.
Raven must be thirteen.
It is a cloudy afternoon.
It is raining
and it is going to rain.
Raven stretches her nimble limbs
across the seat of her bike
and pedals home.
Painting: The Raven (Composition #3) Arshile Gorky, 1931, Cubism. http://www.wikiart.org/en/arshile-gorky/the-raven-composition-no-3
Some consider Steven’s poem to be an an example of cubist poetry because it is concerned with multiple perspectives.
*jdawg blogs at https://jdawgsrunningblog.wordpress.com/