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Wednesday, 31 October 2012

Día de los Muertos

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Ancient deciduous woodland in Epping Forest, a favoured habitat of the Tawny Owl (Strix aluco): photo by Aarandir, 11 November 2007

The day of the dead when
the veil between us and them

is thinnest..........eyelash
kitty breath..........umbrella flutter
psychic butterfly --

A whole procession of them coming

pushing through the net -- the sugar candy
shedding of the skin and how
it lets the wind blow through the veins
the dance of the skulls and when
the spinning of the little mechanic
inside the toy clock stops
the dark man carrying two suitcases
steps from the now no longer moving train --

That’s the day when
I know someone will be
no longer waiting,
the unborn child said.
I invented what I wanted to say
in case anybody out there,
on a cold grey day in autumn,
wanted to hear the thoughts
of the dead --
I opened the door and
in flew a moth, thinking
twilight came early

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Tawny owl (Strix aluco): photo by K.-M. Hansche, 3 May 2006
File:Strix aluco 3young.jpg
Three young Tawny Owls (Strix aluco), near Warsaw, Poland: photo by Artur Mikolajewski, 21 May 2005
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Julia butterfly (Dryas iulia), Isle of Mainau, Lake Constance, Germany: photo by Friedrich Bóhringer, 21 July 2009

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La Catarina, one of the most popular figures in the Day of the Dead celebrations in Mexico. Museo de la Ciudad, Leon, Guanajuato, Mexico: photo by Tomascastelazo, 28 October 2007


Susan Kay Anderson said...

Between us and them
it is a tawny marriage
not quite this and not
quite that. Sugar
big eyes
help to blink
away the daylight.
What we see there.

Susan Kay Anderson said...

A popular figure
fashionably thin
begins a new year.
Oh, the envy to follow!
Exclusive island
orange insect.
Sugar owls balance.
What was it I begged for?

Hazen said...

‘I invented what I wanted to say . . .’

And what lovely devices they are. The moth—the recurring moth—flitting between dimensions, the man carrying two suitcases, stepping between the fixed and the moving . . . and that incomparable tawny owl.

¡Tan perfectos dientes tienen las catarinas! Deben tener un buen plan dental.

Nin Andrews said...

I love this. Esp. inventing an answer in case anyone out there wants to hear the thoughts of the dead. I am reminded of Yeats--Red Rose--the line--
But seek alone to hear the strange things said by God to those long dead . . .

There are so many owls in the woods here. They sit in the trees, quite low, staring--until I pick up my camera. Then swoop off.

Hazen said...

Once, when I lived in another place, there was an owl that lived in the pines in that place and almost every morning for years on end, through every season, through windows open or shut, we could hear that owl calling: Whoooo. Whoo-whoo. Just like that. And during those times when I travelled away, that sound, by then a part of me, went with me and served to remind me of something. And whenever I returned, and heard the owl’s hoot when I woke up the next day, I sensed I was back. I knew then where I was. Then a big storm destroyed the pines. After that, I liked to think I could still hear the owl in the distance, though much further away now, but I could never be sure.

Wooden Boy said...

There are so many folds to this. I love the way in: "eyelash/ kitty breath umbrella flutter.

"The little mechanic" appears as some kind of toyshop cogito to me.

vazambam (Vassilis Zambaras) said...

The moth in this fine poem reminds me of the Ancient Greeks' pictorial representation of the departed soul on urns as a small bird/butterfly/ moth seen hovering over the dead person's shoulder.

TC said...

¡Tan perfectos dientes tienen las catarinas! Deben tener un buen plan dental.

Sí, se dice que hay un muy buen plan universal de atención de salud en lugar en su actual situación.

All the little toyshop cogitos were out and about in their various spooky disguises, last night, in a driving rainstorm downtown, cute little fourteen year old pseudo nymphets in fishnets and mascara "tagging" buses... and seven fully grown adult homeless people lying inert in the doorway of the physical therapy office, where the door code did not work and... I felt I had awakened the dead for nothing.

There are so many owls in the woods, watching us, these nights. Staring, waiting.

Anonymous said...

interesting images...

TC said...

Vassilis, the genus Acherontia has long borne the symbolic connotation of which you speak, as all three of its species -- Atropos, Styx and Lachesis -- have that interesting skull-like tummy-marking. To another moth it probably seems unremarkable enough. But to a human... or a poet...

Death's Head Hawk-Moth (Acherontia lachesis)

No, no! go not to Lethe, neither twist
Wolf's-bane, tight-rooted, for its poisonous wine;
Nor suffer thy pale forehead to be kiss'd
By nightshade, ruby grape of Proserpine;
Make not your rosary of yew-berries,
Nor let the beetle, nor the death-moth be
Your mournful Psyche, nor the downy owl
A partner in your sorrow's mysteries;
For shade to shade will come too drowsily,
And drown the wakeful anguish of the soul.

J. Keats, Ode on Melancholy, 1819

Anonymous said...

Hi, Tom. I don't comment much but I'm here regularly. I come here as I do to water. With a wholly great thank you, Donna

TC said...

Thanks Donna, it is wholly happymaking to know you're there.