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· T. G. I. Friday's Mourning ·

The sentimental fastidiousness of Wednesday's Midweek Sunday Morning — where a few words framed an "Osgood" scene emotionally moving but ironically mute — puts me in mind today, as Wendell Berry might say, of something more messy, poetry.

Today's title marks it as Friday's work, the work of mourning, I like to think, not of morning, of darkness, not sunshine, trouble, not peace. Thank God I have time today to consider it here.

I have in mind a particular poem written to acknowledge the loss by miscarriage last winter of a relative's child — Wren Marie — a girl who will never spread wings westward from Minnesota to see the rugged Washington Coast nor eastward ever to visit her grandparents in Rockville, Maryland, where, recently in the news, we have all mourned deaths even more terrible still.

"Flight Song for Wren Marie" is my daughter-in-law's poem, and when I wrote her last winter to mark its pointed achievement, I knew — as you should now — that it came from a woman whose own father took flight when she was just thirteen. As Yeats knew ("a terrible beauty is born"), poetry lives at the hard edges of experience, and people do too:

Hard surfaces handily softened by such warm consideration. You tread lightly, dive deeply, soar hopefully, alert to new songs of spring this winter. I'm reminded here of Frost's "Never Again Would Birds' Song Be The Same." Like Frost's Eve, you find, even amid mortal loss, a songbird's gift of life to share.

Flight Song for Wren Marie

Winter wren, you've left my fields too early
These days only lengthen in
your absence, shadows long
across the stubble, dry grass rustling, stirred
by my blindly seeking hands
(no answers in the frozen earth)

You do not flit
from root to root along the icy stream bank
(no answers in the frozen water,
burbles hushed to silence) yet

Sweet warbler, your trills
are high on the January wind
I hear each spiraling, sweeping song burst
with unencumbered joy

Still I keen my lullaby, chase each
departing echo, while spring remains
a fickle promise.


Boy howdy! Wren Marie's Flight Song made my heart cry. But, alas, the haunting song of the Wren breaches the threshold of silence only when there's sadness in the heart.

Posted by Dewd on February 13, 2007 12:05 PM

An apt, much appreciated comment, which my daughter-in-law would second.

Posted by
Styles on February 13, 2007 06:57 PM

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