Midwinter thaw. Hazy sun

Pond Song 4.9

Midwinter thaw. Hazy sun
   hot white in the tide pool
behind broken clouds. I’ve begun
   the Sunday walk to God's school.

Ducks rattle between slabs of ice.
   A heron stands stalk still in snow
gray as a shadow. There are no
   shadows but the heron will suffice,

could be my shadow standing there
   nothing between us until that is
it meets my empty human stare
   and rises leaving me with this.
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2 thoughts on “Midwinter thaw. Hazy sun

  1. Interesting, Tom. We’ve seen that heron before, standing still, but ‘stalk still’ is new and beautifully economical I think. The ducks are familiar too, but ‘rattle / ice’ is a new take. Above all, the reference to walking to God’s school powerfully suggests childhood – at least to this reader – and therefore throws the whole scene way back in time and introduces nostalgia. Finally : I like the final line! “This” for me is first of all the poem; and then the meaning starts to encompass the mood, the reflection, the act of writing and then offering to others – and even ‘this’ comment. Fun thought that.

  2. Thanks for the perceptive comments, John. Another reader suggests I mean to say “stock still” not “stock still” and on another blog I have “corrected it.” Perhaps the pun made possible by the regionalism justifies it! Regarding childhood the Pond Songs are attempts to access the primal state of mind associated with infancy, though infants don’t go to any kind of school other that what I would call “God’s school” — that infinite leisure of having nothing better to do than take in the goodness of creation. Of course in the songs there are ironic dimensions, but none, I hope, that occlude this basic understanding of the state-of-mind represented in the poem. If this makes me a Romantic, so be it; but I believe a phenomenological post-modernism is also interested in this zone of awareness of primal being. It is in any case widely represented in Chinese Taoist texts, including poems.

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