A friend of mine gave me a book of poetry a few months ago. Titled Shaking the Pumpkin, it is a rich and careful compendium of traditional poems from Native North Americans, edited by Jerome Rothenberg.
Several of the poems are simply rituals recorded verbatim and translated into English. They appear almost more as linguistic research than actual poems, and magically, it is in this almost lab-like recording of the words that they begin to take on some of their poetic power for me. Here, for instance, are selected lines from my favorite poem in the book:
Language Event 1 Eskimo Use the language of shamans. Say the leash & mean the father “ a road “ the wind “ soup “ a seal “ Big Louse “ a caribou “ what makes me dive in headfirst “ a dream “ what cracks your ears “ a gun “ a jumping thing “ a trout “ what keeps me standing “ your clothes “ the person with a belly “ the weather “ the person with a belly getting up “ the morning “ the person with a belly goes to bed “ it's nightfall “ the little walker “ a fox “ walker with his head down “ a dog “ a person smoke surrounds ” a live one “ a floating one “ an island “ a flat one “ a wolf “ a shadow “ a white man “ another kind of shadow “ a person “ the shadow-maker “ the shaman “ he turned my mind around “ he told me something
I had planned to write my own this morning before the children woke up, but it’s too late for that now, because I took so much time trying to figure out how to format the poem. Meanwhile, I learned a tiny little thing or two about HTML formatting, so there’s that, and I’ll work on my Language Event poem another day.
1. I just found out that the monarchs are on the move in Mexico. Spring is on its way, and the cycles of life continue for this year again at least. We’ll set the table with all the local milkweed we can manage.
3. Messengers, guides, crows
4. Markers, maps, cairns
5. Lent, the contemplative season
May we walk in Sunshine.