What Moves Between
Now that they’ve notched these patchcuts
up and down the hillside
you can hear as you’re climbing the trail
the songs of two completely different kinds of birds
at the same time, overlapping:
on one side a bird of the forest, of the trees,
a Black-headed Grosbeak,
chirping and improvising in the canopy;
and on the other a bird of the field,
of the open meadows,
a White-Crowned Sparrow,
deeeee-dee-dee-deeing from among the stumps
in the new, raw clearings.
Parable, from the Greek paraballo,
to throw together, or to cross over.
The open and the closed,
the sunny and the dark.
It’s the path that moves between them.
Author's Note: Two things going on with this new poem. First, I love birds and birdsong and it’s a wonderful time of year for that. I’m always listening. And the College of Forestry did these little “patchcuts” or mini-clearcuts over the winter, so now I’m hearing, as I say in the poem, birds I’ve never heard next to each other before. The second thing that’s going on is that there’s some tension or division in the parish and in the Church as a whole lately, some conflict, and it struck me immediately as I wrote this that the trail moving between these two different habitats is a wonderful metaphor for how the Church is just a place of paradox and tension, like everywhere else, that we’re always dealing with tensions and divisions and edges, in every part of life, and that’s OK. That’s good. We just have to keep going. I didn’t start with that idea, or any idea. I started with a feeling and an image and the poem just came out more or less in this form the first draft. But there the metaphor was, too. It just lifted off the page.
© 2018 Chris Anderson
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