October 10th, '15
My cousin Mike Mullis's photos of kingfishers* pitch me headfirst into Charles Olson's marvellous poem beginning, famously,
What does not change / is the will to change
I pose you your question:
shall you uncover honey / where maggots are?
I hunt among stones
Weird poem, wacky as brilliant --the kingfishers caged in Olson's poem, t'other end of the imagination that's surely free in Mike's pics.
I thought of the E on the stone, and of what Mao said
but the kingfisher
but the kingfisher flew west
est devant nous!
he got the color of his breast
from the heat of the setting sun
--I recall a wonderful analysis by Guy Davenport of The Kingfishers which showed me how skimpy my reading had been, missing the facts (ma'm), but the poem's sound & shape (its career) got me from the start... Shake one's head now how many of us were diverted for so long by images & metaphor, dramatised by political romance, bloated with misinformation. Now we'll have the kingfisher escape the tyrant, poet or not. Mao? Olson? Golden laughter, golden laughter...
* Mike's caption : "I've only ever taken one or two long-range, blurry images of Kingfishers in recent years but this one suddenly landed only a couple of feet from a Wheatear I'd been photo-ing on a gate-post just 5-6m away. No hide or camouflage gear but just standing still for 20 mins or so by a post and rail fence. I thought it would fly off as soon as I blinked but fortunately it stayed put for at least 10-15 seconds!"