Thursday, November 28, 2013

The Unattainable Coppery-tailed Trogon \ The Narrow Road

Nancy: This bird, now even less attainable, having had its name changed to Elegant Trogon, lives on in my mind, half real, half myth, always beyond reach.

The Unattainable Coppery-tailed Trogon

Sometimes it’s just a matter of altitude.
Or luck.  Worn out by Onion Pass, camping too high,
not knowing that Spring was straight down
where the snow melted and fell into Cave Creek.

Sometimes it’s a matter of attitude,
of settling for easy bookish beasts and lame archetypes,
or of never being in the right place
to catch the Ravens in their Spring.
Black birds seen in the looking glass
are less real than my Trogon,

which I have called unattainable,
but which is truly there, calling from tree to tree
in a canyon which I could find, given luck
and another Spring.

Alan: I offer homage to Basho, after reading The Narrow Road To The Interior (aka The Narrow Road To The Deep North) in translation.

The Narrow Road

Anxious before each Barrier,
at Shitomae Basho finds delay,
the guards “suspicious, slow
and thorough.”  A three-day
pounding storm: refuge
a guard-shack with its lice
and fleas: “Now the horse
beside my pillow pees,” an amber
torrent, soaking stinking
            No wonder “the old
infirmities return”: fever,
weakness, and the fear of death
on that narrow, interior path.
And at each stage a thousand
years whisper to you, or moan,
in grass, under water, or in stone,
and a country as if made by gods calls forth
these poems wherein we watch you
pause at that gateless gate
then step through,
into light.

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