April is National Poetry Month. The perfect time to come out of the closet and admit that I am a poetry nerd. I love poetry. I read it. I write it. I've even published some in lit mags and the like, entered a few in contests, won some awards here and there. I have several shelves dedicated to poetry in my library that are stacked full and still the collection grows every year. It includes everything from William Shakespeare to Camille Dungy to Adrienne Rich, who I was sad to hear passed away the other day. I can recite quite a few poems off the top of my head. Yes, I was one of those kids who didn't mind the assignment from my lit professors. I've actually memorized a few just because I wanted to. But, then again, I literally live my life by the inspiration of Robert Frost, who told me to "take the road less traveled by," and I truly believe it's made all the difference.
I'm proudest of learning every line from T.S. Eliot's The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock. Yep, that pretty much clinched things on my nerd status. I particularly like it when Prufrock says, "Shall I part my hair behind? Do I dare to eat a peach?/ I shall wear white flannel trousers and walk upon the beach./ I can hear the Mermaids singing, each to each./ I do not think they will sing for me." Yes, I love that nerdy man and all his quirky language. And who doesn't love Edgar Allan Poe, who not only made The Raven quoth "Nevermore," but made up fabulous words like "Tintinabulation?" Or Emily Dickinson who told us how the sun rose "one ribbon at a time," or Sanda Cisneros who sleeps with her cat when no one will have her. Stop me, before things get out of hand.
Reigning it in here, I write poetry, not because I find myself wanting to be the next great poet, nor to try in vain to out word Wordsworth, I write poetry simply to add my words to a wondrous tradition that has given so much joy and inspiration to me. And, I hope my words will give back, in that tradition, a little inspiration to someone else. So, in honor of poetry month, I give you a poem by Amanda Corlies Sandos, first published in The Canary by Hip Pocket Press.
Oh, and don't forget to stop by The Ravens Crossing today, where my latest flash fiction excerpt from Morgan & Holly's story has posted. Okay, we now return to our regularly scheduled poetry. Happy Poetry Month!
Greater Flamingo (Pheonocopterous roseus)
On the shore of this parched bowl, at the base of a volcano, ten thousand
birds flag their heads from side to side, necks stretched, marching in rows.
Quills on their backs click like the beads of Masai women walking, barely heard over
the honking chaos. Every year when the rains come, the lake rises from cracked earth,
they wade through bubbles, mixing blue-green algae and brine shrimp. If the earth
is quenched they build, scooping and stamping, stamping and scooping, clapping
their feet, molding mounds, growing thinner, feathers frayed, caked, matted. She’ll perch
at the top of her turret and sing – soft, lyrical – stretching towards any who walk past,
resting her neck against the one who stops, hoping he’ll rub his neck to hers. She’ll close
her eyes and return the caress of the one standing with her in this boiling lake,
the one who will share their roost, turn their chalky egg, tend their chick, preen and feed,
protect until these waters recede.
This year they waited for the sky to open, but no rains came. Tonight, as the sun sinks,
they lift their wings and fly, without ritual, without young.
© Amanda Corlies Sandos