INSIDE THIS ISSUE:
THERE'S NO CAT OUTSIDE MY DOOR, # 1
from a suite of poems
"Break, break, break...
oh, Buddha, take my skull away."
--"Broken Bone Blues"
There is something to be said for having one's cat
waiting each morning outside the door, for knowing
that the animal is as steady, as sure, as faithful as
the poet's pen was in turning small critters into images,
night-calling birds into symbols, ferns into gardens,
wild flowers into poetic lines, bent and twisted trees
into stanzas, and then into lyrical poems resounding
with cries of the dense forested Sound area outside
his home. Yes, Roethke was as faithful to his art,
to his work and craft as that cat to his then master.
How seldom is the bond ever broken, almost never
severed while both still live. But, what happens after
when one dies, when one is removed from the physical
presence, from the habitat wherein the other remains?
Can the spirit, the so abstract connection between man
and beast, between craftsman and artful creature survive?
I, too, in an oft-chance sort of manner, have been removed
from creature bonds by distance, so do I maintain a link?
THERE'S NO CAT OUTSIDE MY DOOR, # 2
"Let me wake to see
you each morning."
I don't remember looking recently, but the last time I did there was
no cat outside my door. There was however, just last night, a small
ugly-looking statue, apparently left there by some passerby, perhaps
someone unable to carry their load any further, and so being near
my doorstep, left this object for me to discover as I did upon my
arrival from visiting friends. I remember the delight I had that day
I first recognized a Queen Anne's lace while walking across the field
on my way to school; it was like learning how to take a perfect photo.
Now I know there is nothing quite like my young discoveries, my being
able to spot, then know one wildflower from another and name them.
Surely Roethke must have experienced such things as he grew up in
nearly the same Michigan fields and woodlots, not far from where I
later came to live. He listened to the jay-jaying, watched the scurrying
of mice across open spaces darting from the eye of the hawk, the vulture.
And then, too, he climbed atop nursery greenhouses, slid down dirty
snow banked hillsides, breathed in the spring fresh air of April and May.
Yesterday, when you turned over and lay there looking at me with your
delightful smile, you both took me back and forward into dream visions.
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