December 18, 2009
Origami by Marjorie Evasco
This word unfolds, gathers up wind
to speed the crane's flight
north of my sun to you.
I am shaping this poem
out of paper, folding
distances between our seasons.
This paper is a crane.
When its wings unfold,
The paper will be pure and empty.
Why I Write
On occasions like this when I am asked to talk about my poetics the image of the Great Heron standing in the mudflats comes to mind. It is an image that brings me back to a long bus ride I once took with my parents from Tagbilaran City to the town of Ubay to visit my grandparents for the summer vacation. I hated those bus rides because invariably, too many people were crushed together, and under the seats were all sorts of odds and ends-- potatoes, bananas, dried fish, corn grits and chickens tied at the feet to be sold at a public market in some town. There were fewer buses in Bohol then and when the one we took blew one of its tires, it meant a tedious wait in the middle of nowhere while the driver walked to the nearest vulcanizing shop.
I was a hungry, hot-tempered and testy 10-yr. old from the heat and dust when our bus stopped in San Pascual, a barrio 25 kms. from our destination. But my father hoisted me down from the seat, brushed the white lime dust from my hair, and led me up a hill where the cogon grass swayed to a pungent breeze. From this lookout point, the rice in the paddies were ready for harvesting.
“Watch,” my father instructed, pointing to a pond where two carabaos were cooling off. Suddenly, my father clapped his hands, and as if by magic, a flock of white birds flew out of the water behind the clump of cogon grass. The birds circled and took my heart with them as they flew away.
“Herons,” my father named them. They were perfect in flight, and as the child I was, I must have associated beauty with motion. I must also have associated magic with the way the hands can call forth things, and the way names can fix in memory a moment of transient wonder.
Many summers hence, far from my family and away from the island of Bohol, I began to learn the language of flight, dream and memory I now call poetry.
Today's Poetry Friday is being hosted by Susan Taylor Brown. Click here to go there.