keeper and creator
measuring magic by the moon
For Colleen’s #TankaTuesday poet’s choice and for Draw a Bird Day, a didactic cinquian.
The Egyptian god Thoth was often represented as an ibis, or an ibis-headed man. Like the sacred ibis bird, he was associated with knowledge, wisdom and the moon, but also much more. Scribe to the gods, he taught men to write. He was the reckoner of time, “he who balances”, a scientist and magician.
Millions of ibis birds were mummified in Ancient Egypt as offerings to Thoth. The sacred ibis is now regionally extinct in Egypt, although it is still found in other Sub-Saharan African lands.
One species of ibis found in eastern American coastal regions is the glossy ibis. From a distance it appears to be a mostly uniform dark color, but close up its feathers become an iridescent rainbow.
Today is #WorldMigratoryBirdDay. The glossy ibis flocks that breed along the NE coast migrate to the Gulf of Mexico for wintering. As with all shore dependent migratory birds, saving our natural shorelines are one key to their survival.
Also linking to earthweal open link weekend.
It’s May! I haven’t done any artwork for a month, having used art from the archives for my April NaPoWriMo posts at kblog. So it felt good yesterday to ignore the moving boxes and pull out my watercolors and paint. I did two paintings, below–a landscape and some impressionistic flowers.
I then cut them into one inch strips and wove them together for my grid. I also did some further experiments, cutting some of the strips into one inch squares and arranging them in different ways. But that’s for another day with more time to think.
The moon visited me at dawn yesterday. It was dancing with the clouds. The Oracle managed to insert it into my May verse. Well we know how She feels about the moon.
wild winds grow full
listen to Maysongs
birds seeding spring air
with gardens rooted deep
in the fertile paths
that follow the wandering moon
spread your wings
carry the night in
The eagle owl is both one of the largest and longest-lived owls. With wing spans up to 6 feet, it has no natural predators, although it is sometimes mobbed by crows. The leading causes of death– electrocution, hunting, and poisoning–are man-made.
Nesting on cliffs or rocky outcrops, it has a wide distribution throughout Europe and Asia. I love its binomial name–Bubo Bubo.
Eagle owls are solitary, territorial, and nocturnal. They can more often be heard, having a large number of vocalizations, than seen.
For Colleen’s #TankaTuesday, poet’s choice.
the seed waits, dreaming–
colors pulse in liquid sound
This is a reprisal of my April 2015 grid with a new poem for Colleen’s #TankaTuesday, haiku/senryu. The collage and original haiku were inspired by Monet’s waterlilies.
I’m going to continue my monthly grid and draw-a-bird day here, while I will be posting for NaPoWriMo on kblog.
water lilies: green
your flashy loud mimicry
a family trait
Continuing my explorations of the Corvid family, I decided to collage and draw a green jay this month. Residents of the Texas borderlands, they are also found in Central and South America. Like all corvids, they are intelligent, adaptable, brash, and have a large variety of vocalizations, including imitating the calls of hawks to drive away food competitors. They also use sticks as tools to pry bark up to get to the insects underneath.
Green jays live and forage communally, in family groups. The populations are currently stable, although habitat destruction is a concern, particularly in Mexico, and around the proposed border wall to be built through the Santa Ana National Wildlife Refuge.
what dream is this? circling
spiralling into form
slipstreamed fertile reborn
Colleen’s Tanka Tuesday theme is dreams, so I’ve written a variety of dream poems for March, a dreamy month I think. I’ve interspersed some of my previous March grids.
in March I
rains that be
come sun-dappled spring—shining,
blooming with birdwings
part of the landscape
begin to dance
with waves of light, singing
sun into roots, filling
my nights with dreams
Poetic forms are, in order, abhanga, shadorma, haiku, badger’s hexastitch.
Birds need no maps of the earth,
no compass to locate the forces
that pull and repel.
Their geography is larger
than what can be painted, written down.
Their landscape is contained inside
their very bones,
invisible roots woven through
Birds move on currents
of sun sky wind and water–
alert to the pauses,
in the movement of the light.
They hear the world
as it slumbers, as it awakens,
as it waits.
They have no need to build bridges
for crossing over.
Birds don’t need to mark their path,
to provide proof
of their connection to the cosmos
with signs or constructs.
Who they are
is part of their being.
The way is within
the first cell of
the first song of
the first particle of
dust from the first star.
I recently read an article about the red knot B95, nicknamed Moonbird. B95 is a banded bird that was both trapped and photographed through 20 years of migration between the tip of South America, where it winters, and the Arctic, where it summers and breeds, a distance of 9000 miles each way. B95 traveled enough miles to go to the moon and most of the way back–hence, Moonbird.
Considering the fact that one half of juvenile red knots dies during their first year’s mirgration, that is quite an accomplishment.
Red knots are robin-sized shore birds that have greyish feathers during their southern winters, but grow red feathers for the summer layover in the Arctic. As recently as 1995 there were over 150,000 red knots making the north-south-north trip, but half of the adult red knot population died between 2000-2002 due to climate change and human intrusions on their habitat. Of particular concern was the reduction of the horseshoe crab population in the tidal waters of the Delaware Bay, an important last feeding stopover before the final flight to the Arctic. Red knots time their migrations to coincide with the yearly egg-laying of horseshoe crabs, feeding on the eggs laid on the beaches. Horseshoe crabs are important to many other species in the bay as well, and scientists are working to restore this vital component of the ecosystem, which was dying due to overfishing and overdevelopment.
Red knots fly in acrobatic groups and perform evasive movements in unison meant to confuse predators like hawks. How do they “know” where to go? One theory is that they have an internal genetic flight map, but they are also known to respond to the position of the sun and the movements of the stars as they often fly all night. Red knots may also recognize both landmarks and magnetic fields. No wonder they have been called “a flying compass”
Moonbird was last spotted in 2014, 19 years after he was first caught and banded.
Red knots were the first bird ever listed under the Endangered Species Act.
are the days
moving on, circling
through? or are
they giving up, slowing down,
following the un
of tidings reaching for shore
lines that aren’t there–echos of
from folds of pages–
not maps, but
sparkling against the stardust
of reflected nights–
there and then not now
as omens—uncaught, eddied
by prevailing winds
For my February grid, another mandala. We are still mired in confusing times. Too many trees, not enough forest.
Sometimes a change of perspective can clarify, or at least calm the stormy seas.
My poem Upon a Time, inspired by “Spinning Flax”, by Maria Martinetti, below, is posted on The Ekphrastic Review today.
hushabye, don’t cry–
all the pretty horses fly
shining starborne dreams
You can read the entire poem here.
My thanks once again to editor Lorette C. Luzajic for supporting my work and the interaction between the visual and written arts.