In Memory of Merwin

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Fly

AFTER THE ALPHABETS

I am trying to decipher the language of insects
they are the tongues of the future
their vocabularies describe buildings as food
they can depict dark water and the veins of trees
they can convey what they do not know
and what is known at a distance
and what nobody knows
they have terms for making music with the legs
they can recount changing in a sleep like death
they can sing with wings
the speakers are their own meaning in a grammar without horizons
they are wholly articulate
they are never important they are everything

 

— W.S. Merwin, from his 1988 book The Rain in the Trees.  Copyright © 1988 by W. S. Merwin.

Merwin died this month at the age of 91.

October

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Dead Leaves

“October” by Robert Frost

O hushed October morning mild,
Thy leaves have ripened to the fall;
Tomorrow’s wind, if it be wild,
Should waste them all.
The crows above the forest call;
Tomorrow they may form and go.
O hushed October morning mild,
Begin the hours of this day slow.
Make the day seem to us less brief.
Hearts not averse to being beguiled,
Beguile us in the way you know.
Release one leaf at break of day;
At noon release another leaf;
One from our trees, one far away.
Retard the sun with gentle mist;
Enchant the land with amethyst.
Slow, slow!
For the grapes’ sake, if they were all,
Whose leaves already are burnt with frost,
Whose clustered fruit must else be lost—
For the grapes’ sake along the wall.

The Mysteries of Ravens

Raven Tool

Raven Tool

This morning I watched as a raven went to great pains to remove this twig from the mulberry tree in our back yard. Why was he so intent on this task, even while being bombarded by an irate mockingbird? When he finally freed the twig from the branch, he held it in his beak for a moment before letting it drop to the patio below him. After a moment or two, he simply flew off. Was he going to use this twig as a tool, but decided to find a better one? After he left, I went outside and picked it up. It didn’t seem suitable for a nest-building project. Bit of a mystery here……

In a neurotic, tumultuous, sometimes violent election cycle that dominates the news, in the midst of the bombardment of robo calls invading our home every single day, it’s a relief to ponder simpler mysteries (simple from my point of view…..I can’t speak for the raven). I keep this twig next to my laptop as a reminder that most of life occurs outside any given news cycle.

Bees

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Bee

Bee

Recently, Joe and I were sitting in a golf cart in the middle of a fairway when we saw a cloud of something approaching us. It was a swarm of honeybees. It was almost as if they passed through us because not one bee ran into us or our golf cart though for one, brief moment we were surrounded by them. Both Joe and I had goosebumps after they passed.