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Capitalism Nature Socialism

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Four poems
Roberta Werdinger & Lois Bunse
Published online: 25 Feb 2009.

To cite this article: Roberta Werdinger & Lois Bunse (1989) Four poems, Capitalism Nature Socialism, 1:3, 135-139, DOI: 10.1080/10455758909358389

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A Note on Two Poets

If our lives are, in fact, embedded in a rich network

of realities, the rigorous and often useful specializations
of science are sure to mislead and disappoint us unless
they are amplified and complemented by a richer, more
suggestive kind of language. The language science has
traditionally authorized is neither sustainable nor
sustaining; it fails to engage human feeling or to
acknowledge, by way of its own methods, the role which
feeling plays in our understanding of the world. As
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William Everson has pointed out, if an ecological

awakening is really to occur, it must be presided over by
the spirit of poetry.

Roberta Werdinger lives on the California coast

north of San Francisco; Lois Bunse in the gold country
of the Sierra foothills. - Mark Linenthal

What I'm Doing Here

I'm staggering up the ladder

I'm spinning out the air around me
I'm dwelling in the hollow of my body

The earth crouches, a cup in a saucer

The birds rest in the clouds, I cannot hear them
The sun strikes the blood of the tree
My lungs glide over sensation as over a deck of cards
The cells of my skin murmur in the breeze
The air is festooned with past and present moments
My fingers grow warm with their resin
I'm standing on one of the earth's thousand fountains
- I'm not rooted to the spot, I just don't choose to move
My fingers smell of lilac and seek out marble
I'm flinging sensations into the breeze
My arms brush against the membrane of the sky
My ribs are a cage for moles and field mice, and
My eyes are baskets for eggs
My blood sings to the mud, the rain drying on the leaves
The earth is translucent and the air, unalterably packed
The very blood sealing my bones flies open in rapture at the
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The space between here and there is mined with experience

- One step in this direction or that, different futures unfold
The walls of the sky are decorated with thoughts yet to reach
There are too many directions for my finger to point in
The very poles drift, and clamber on each other's shoulders
If I push out with my hands, the four waters of the world might
flood me
My fingers ache from describing sensation
The clock in my stomach digests another redwood
I open my belly and draw out my rapture, scale by scale
The surface of every atom is slick
The air polishes itself forever.

Roberta Werdinger

After Rain

After rain the vultures come out.

The colors come out and the no-colored sun comes out.

The tree's greens and browns swell,

assured of their ability to live in us.

This kind of light that bypasses the eyes

to enter the brain directly, dilating it

into a kind of brainless ecstasy

where each object appears outlined

with its own yearning to be invisible.

Each thing - shed, tree,

fence - stands out so strongly it erases itself.

Each thing makes a sign
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as it enters the brain's body.

The trees pass letters hand to hand,

opened and indecipherable.

The world-flesh shines

with cruelty.
It cares about us so little

it cannot betray us.

Roberta Werdinger

Ankeny Hill

At Rickreall, towards Independence,

then south, along the Willamette,
in about three miles the sky
opens a chancel for geese.
On the floor of their sanctuary
the water stands in rows,
collects dense winter light.

Geese, luffing in, answer to land.

One by one they come down
like the angel Gabriel thanking the Lord.
All day the brown geese settle with each other,
a river assemblage talking the skies over.
They take refuge. I feel oddly abandoned.
Round as river rocks on tender grass,
they know each other's voices.

I don't go among them. F m not Catholic.

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But you are. With you, they might stay, you

know which knee down for genuflection,
when to go to the altar in Latin,
to the priest who gives round blessings
and you know exactly how to hold your tongue.

Lois Bunse

Dabob Bay

Heron on the mud-flat run heavy as a herd,

deer, before they flap, big
as mother's hands making the bed billow.
She casts the sheet over and over.
It drops, settling
and up once more the flight of heron
turns to land, settles.

We settle into summer after summer,

quilt deep-stiched heron tracks, drive
the needle all the way through to Uncle Donny
and Father in the War.
Dabob Bay slows to fat mud, browsing
heron stalk their catch.
How docs the bay drain, exactly?
How docs water slow to land?

This full Pacific estuary holds still,

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then, limber as a lake in Canada,

it fields the clouds. A seal surfaces,
loosening the wake that dogs his head,
changing the windless water
to roots, banks of shellfish
and back to ocean bed again.
Silver paths map mud shaped
pillows the way mother taught
the bottom of an estuary,

Lois Bunse


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