Sep 19, 2011

Cedar Waxwings, "Psyche and Eros in Florida" by Debora Greger

Saturday I caught this cedar waxwing in a treetop. I didn’t know what it was—maybe “just another” cardinal, I thought--a female. But with digital photography, your chances cost nothing, so I fired away, without much hope. I’m especially happy to have caught her with crest raised. (Why “her”? I guess it's the lingering notion of female cardinal. Otherwise, I have no idea.).

At the same site a week earlier, I tried to catch some cedar waxwings, casual but flitting among berries. They seemed to be posing, and I thought I had at least a couple of fine shots. But here, sadly, is the best of them:

I looked for a poem specifically about cedar waxwings and found this one by Debora Greger, who has published eight books of poetry. She is the life partner of poet and critic William Logan, who’s been discussed here a few times in the last few months. Both writers teach at the University of Florida.

Psyche and Eros in Florida by Debora Greger : Poetry Magazine

Once again, this is my first experience with a poem, and I'm not sure how all the parts fit together. However, I like some of it very much:

They devour the fruit no local bird wants.
Unswerving, they swerve through clotheslines.
Let their whispery cries be mine.
Their whisper of wings is yours.

The drop of wax that fell on your bare shoulder.
Why didn’t you want me to see you? 

what of the traitorous, languorous body?
It lies down. It begs.



Michelle said...

I do like that tuft of hair in the first shot.

Unknown said...

I've always liked watching the cedar waxwings--they were frequent visitors to the place I recently lived in Idaho. You did pull out most of the best moments from the poem, tho I myself like the whole fourth & fifth stanzas quite well. The word "tethered" in the first stanza completely throws me--for whatever that's worth.

Banjo52 said...

Farmchick, it's a happy little tuft, doncha think?

John, welcome. "tethered" certainly draws attention to itself, doesn't it. For now, I'm divided. Her use of it is awfully interesting, but it may be self-conscious, forced, or just too far-fetched. A palm "tethered" to the last of the day's heat . . . Hmmmm. Given the poem's title, as well as the image itself, it's probably phallic, but I still wonder if it's working too hard for its presence in the poem.

Brenda's Arizona said...

Lovely photos, Banjomyn. Your last one is my favorite.

I like how the poet actually integrates the bird's behavior/diet into the poem. I come away knowing something more about the bird, not just more about the poet's talent.
Nice find!

Pasadena Adjacent said...

for a little bird that lives off the unwanted, she has a beautiful name. Cedar waxwing


each provocative in it's own right

Anonymous said...

Speaking of birds, your chicken poet -- it was your chicken poet wasn't it, the one who came to roost? -- won a big, big prize. Good, good for her.

Hannah Stephenson said...

This was nice, too: "By candlelight nothing is not beautiful."

I liked those last two lines, but the form of the two right before those was a little distracting for me (super long and super short).

And good photos!

Anonymous said...

Wonderful that you have these birds to photograph. I have never seen them here.

Banjo52 said...

Brenda, I like that point. I bet most of us underestimate how much sheer information we can get through poetry.

PA, thanks—I’ve been aware of them long enough to have forgotten (become desensitized) to the name. I agree, it’s very nice, esp. broken down the way you do it.

AH, an astounding memory! That’s been at least a year, hasn’t it? Yes, Kay Ryan, now a former poet laureate. I don’t know if I raved enough about her talk at the Dodge Poetry Festival last October. She held the attention of a roomful (maybe 500) teens, and she was only talking about being a poet!

Hannah, yes, there are parts of the poem I’m still scratchy about. But blogging here about Robert Lowell’s “Skunk Hour” a few months ago RE-taught me to try to avoid hasty judgments.

Brenda and Hannah, thanks about the pics. So often while shooting I feel I’ve just one-upped Ansel Adams, then I see the . . . results. But sometimes I’m pleased or just surprised. Photography is a great hobby—it makes the world even more interesting than it seemed.

Abe, as I said, I’ve known of cedar waxwings for a long, long time, but haven’t seen any for decades. Just stumbled onto 3-4 that afternoon near some berries, and they felt like a gift. Ditto that high one, which I couldn’t even identify till I downloaded it. For all its problems, I’m a big fan of digitalization and the internet in general . . .

Hannah, the very same internet on which I just re-started a new subscription to Kenyon Review yesterday, after a few years away from it. Might be at least partly due to your recommendation, plus a few poems I liked at their online site. I’ve always respected that magazine, but only recently have they seemed to care about being user friendly.

Lovers' Lane