Saturday, June 9, 2012

poetry date: eloise butler wildlife garden

I "copied down" the names of plants by photographing them (I have tried to balance writing notebook and camera on these nature walks, and I can say, I've been frightfully unsuccessful).  Meryl decided to rename the mayapple to Maya-apple, which I completely approve of. 

I love how insects reinterpret the landscape.  We brought with us:  citronella balm, water and tea in canning jars, poetry notebooks, poems to share.  Opal told us about horse's tail and how much she loves yarrow.

We found wild orchids and false blue indigo.  Opal realized she had planted the indigo in her little plot of land and decided she'll have to stay to see it grow.  I like that a plant is keeping her nearby.  Meryl, I feel, is more grounded in Minneapolis:  she's married and her husband is growing in name as a tattoo artist, she owns a house, and her sister, who is pregnant with her second son, lives not many blocks away.  But with Opal, there is less to tether her here, so I will take what I can get.  We are a merry band.

We found a lovely spot of shade (the temperature neared 100) beneath a widening tree overlooking little hillocks of flowers and dragonflies.  Meryl read to us from Radial Symmetry, which got me hopping around in excitement because it is at the very tippity-top of my to-savor to-read list (which means, since I tend to save best for last, I am waiting for a very good moment to devour this book).  She read a shark poem, and despite all the prompts and other poems and pieces we read, we all settled in to write a shark poem of our own, sprinkling some of our wildflower terminology within. 

I wrote about the nurse shark we dissected in third grade.  We were allowed to take an organ or the like home in a jar of vinegar, and I took one of the little curls of a baby-shark found clustered within our poor, stinky shark.

I brought poems by Heid E. Erdrich (form: geographical markers, columned stanza with colors), Quan Barry (for the piling of images and that kind of elegant line), Brenda Shaughnessy (a poem called "Postfeminism" with Virigina Woolf in it for Meryl), Laynie Browne (a section of three-word poems, each creating a story).

There was a note on this description of the park that said Eloise Butler died of a heart attack in the garden when she was 81.  We waved good-bye to E.B. as we left and have made plans to hike the bluffs in my town next weekend for a repeat--it was incredibly enriching. 

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