Issue 1.1 

Summer 2021

Su Love

Reflection:

 “The Whole Bird Flies :The Hand She Raises” is a visually staged poem in which the punctuation moves thought and language more or differently than it traditionally does.

 
i

Let the crescents of the (gull

(up very high) (long wings) maybe heron)

Heron equal the daylit-capped moon’s

(

(

            white-penciled arcs marked on aerogram-blue

            dancing distanced with

            white kayak paddle blades dip-lift, dip-lift   

                                                                                                   )

                                                                                                   )

            white crowns of water lilies, fans of lilies, and a blade

                        opened, opening, unopened

 

            sclera of lily roots spiraling into the muck

                        reach down to go up, down to go forward                                        

 

That gloved heron swiveling with kayak paddle blades (

                                                                                                   )

                                                                                                   )

                                                                                         (

 

ii

In the silence

The whole bird flies

 

iii

Heron, the mathematician, collected formulas,

Then they became known as his

For example, the one to figure the area of a triangle

When the lengths of all three sides are known

Is really Archimedes’ work

 

The Dalai Lama gestures with

(digitally entrained light)

His unsleeved arm spiraling in a gold room made of windows

  

“No independent existence. No locus of”

            :self

            :witness

            :root

“Buddha says, science says, self arcs through all areas of the brain”

(by somatic measurements, self arcs through all areas of the body)

 

iv

In the silence made of the first alphabet of movement

            :infuse, unfurl, spiral, turn and turn

            :pull hydrogens and oxygens, pull charge

Crescent meant not shape but movement (wax, wane)

 

v

Heron, the engineer, forced air from metal necks             

(see his book Pneumatica)

To make toy birds sing

 

vi

Heron, the appropriator, would not foresee

Repairs are needed

Some (material transfer)

In measure for the immeasurable

            :

            :

            :

            :(en)forced compressions

In the narratives of lunate economies (greater than, less)

In decrescendos from movement to states of being to imprisoned shapes

 

vii

Let the crescents of that gloved heron

Equal the daylit moon marking

             :aerogram-blue

             :white kayak paddle (      )

             :white crowns of lilies, fans of lilies (       )

 

viii

This small scar? A white boy and a knife. Quite casually                   

He reaches over to slice her thumb

Because (she is proximate (his rage) (son of a wrecking ball

demoing his boy)

That boy sharp

(and a white girl (told (by white women) “he must like you

(hence, to be liked is to be cut) “be nice

to him” (that is, be likeable))

(nothing happens to him (boys will be boys)

 

            :not nothing

            :no repair

(boys will be men who were boys being

the men who were boys

of the men who beat them))

she entrains all emotion

into one nice state of being

(the shape is cut))

She bleeds.

He keeps his knife. She drops hers.

             :and yet

That scar is a blade she wields for life

 

ix

In conclusion, a rush of monks, masked and gloved, rush into view

To help the Dalai Lama rise from his gilded chair. “Not to worry,”

He kindly offers his audience, “Just a little knee trouble”

 

x

Nice, adj., socially or conventionally correct[ed],

a nice girl

Extension of root *sek- to cut

“forms all or part of”

 

xi

Nice, literally not-knowing (ne + scire (science))

“The sense development has been extraordinary,

even for an adj.” (Weekley, qtd. in etymonline)

 

xii

This is not a scar

This is the edge of the embedded blade

In the hand she raises (in grief) (in question)

(in defense) (to speak)

In the hand with which she signs (wills)

(directives) (contracts) (debts)

In the hand with which she covers (her

mouth) (her eye) (her ) (her page)

The hand that measures, marks, means,                                                       

Mends. The hand on her mind

 

xiii

Thus the areas of triangles wheel

            :heron, moon, blade

            :heron, blade, lily

Generations of one heron crescenting

 

Not the whole bird but the stagelit edges of its wings

(which is the whole bird (only the whole bird flies))

The Whole Bird Flies :The Hand She Raises 

Su Love is the author of six collections of poetry, some published as Su Smallen. Her work has been recognized internationally, most recently by Salmon Poetry in Ireland, the Unamuno Author Series in Spain, and the Minnesota State Arts Board. (sulove.org)

Su's Book Recommendations

I most highly recommend Heid E. Erdrich’s Little Big Bully (Penguin, 2020), which I read right after Eavan Boland’s The Historians (Norton, 2020). I carried from Boland images such as "your mother and mine" burning journals and letters. "Record-keepers with a different task. / To stop memory becoming history. / To stop words healing what should not be healed." Boland describes moving in thought from "Silence was a story...on its own and all to itself" to "Silence told the story." In Erdrich’s poetry, silence is both story and storyteller, and also more. Silence is agent, intelligent power: "We do not speak those names in order that / they not answer." "A voice leaving us / or the opposite."

 

     The woman said nothing         The woman said nothing         The woman said nothing 

     When nothing is said               the story gets starved               in that way she said  

      

To stop memory becoming history, but Erdrich also asks history to align with memory. Erdrich marks and makes silence within as well as between lines, which knots and nets public and private grief, "depth alone."  The net is capacious and holds misogyny, Native American genocide, and climate change which are colonialism and white supremacy, no harrowing to be considered separately. "Bully," noun or verb, now points to cruel and aggressive behavior, but the word’s historical meanings are lover, brother, and protector. Erdrich expertly and exquisitely engages all these meanings in Little Big Bully through craft, wisdom, anger, love, and vision.