This past August was For the Birds

A little stream of consciousness blog entry brought on by the sounds surrounding me this morning…  On August 22 I heard a poem that has not wholly left me since.   The poem is called is called Kingfisher, by Chris McCabe, and tells the story of how he missed seeing two Kingfishers that his wife saw because he was attending to his son.  The poem was inspired as McCabe wondered if maybe it was better to just imagine the bird rather than see it:

“This poem begins with a quotation from the American poet Charles Olson which says, ‘it is true. It does nest with the opening year but not on the waters…’ Kingfisher. How do you describe the blue you’ve never seen? I was fixing the biting muscles of mitts to the boy’s fingers. You saw the tailless hologram shoot its bib of awe. I was holding the boy from the lagoon-green under breeze of the lake. The blue flecks shook green it’s Atlantic dorsal. I was persuading the boy that faces in puddles were not the only ones to understand him – the savage Buddha ball bearing for digested fishbone. I was hauling the boys knees from the ulcer of lap pools, the blast of Bunsen made swift if it’s short fuel. I was kneading the yeast kisses he tossed to Canada geese. And as your lizard-shed January skin, I was searching the path for the boy’s alchemy of chance in gold grass. The pixilated dash from Victorian taxidermists. I was pushing the boy in euphorics towards the A roads of futurist fire services. The damsel blue hunter thrust its mollusk glance. I read that night, only the righteous see the kingfisher. I was later, the boy asleep, his consciousness given back to dreams, a gale to the wind chimes, his exhausted limbs lit by the trip-switch of pulse. The righteous one said, as I drifted to dark – said the one word, kingfisher. And I caught his blue, pulled back from the only place I’d ever seen him.

I heard McCabe read his poem Kingfisher in a brief radio spot on NPR and wondered, Kingfisher 2without any judgment, why poet Charles Olson was referenced and Gerard Manley Hopkins’ As Kingfishers Catch Fire, Dragonflies Draw Flame, wasn’t.

As kingfishers catch fire, dragonflies dráw fláme;
As tumbled over rim in roundy wells
Stones ring; like each tucked string tells, each hung bell’s
Bow swung finds tongue to fling out broad its name;
Each mortal thing does one thing and the same:
Deals out that being indoors each one dwells;
Selves—goes itself; myself it speaks and spells,
Crying Whát I do is me: for that I came.
Í say móre: the just man justices;
Kéeps gráce: thát keeps all his goings graces;
Acts in God’s eye what in God’s eye he is—
Chríst—for Christ plays in ten thousand places,
Lovely in limbs, and lovely in eyes not his
To the Father through the features of men’s faces.

sparrowInterestingly, as I have sat here and written today’s post on my back patio the birds in the alley have gone from raucous to nearly silent, which brings to mind another gem Jim Tate pointed me to on August 18.  I replied to Jim that the story was one of the most beautiful things I had read in quite some time, and that it helped me recall my daily walks at Audubon Park in New Orleans, where I circled “bird Island” watching all kinds of amazing birds slowly returning after hurricane Katrina.  It’s well worth a read:

Happy Monday,



This entry was posted in The Rev. Jim Quigley and tagged . Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to This past August was For the Birds

  1. says:

    God bless you for this one, Jim…exquisite! your sister, pat

  2. Michele says:

    Beautiful. Wish I was reading this outside on a patio this morning.

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