We Creatures of the Earth Must Move and Move Again—

. . . a matter of sense—the thousand-eyed,
thousand-eared alertness of a flock.
The strategies are given names—
I don’t know them. What sticks for me is how
the air itself is altered. The way light
bends back from bellies and wings as they turn.

migration image
This duck, called a smew, is taking off from a Finnish wetland. By Thermos (Own work;) [GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html) or CC-BY-SA-3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0/)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons 
Churchmouse is back home—only to ponder what it means to go elsewhere.

I was rooting around for material to share at the September installment of Churchmouse After Hours. (REMINDER: it’s the evening of Wed. Sept 27 — that’s, like, really soon!)  Our theme this month is “Migration & Journeys.” I came across Anne Reynolds Voegtlen’s “Migration,” from the September, 1998 issue of Poetry magazine. The poem itself is a “journey” toward understanding avian migration—and the longing it can call up in a lone person on the ground, looking up as a city’s worth of birds passes over.

As I ponder this happy discovery, I’m also making a stack of other possible poems and prose excerpts to read aloud—or offer up for others to read—that includes works by Homer; T. S. Eliot; two Polish poets (Adam Zagajewski and Wyslawa Szymborska—regulars at After Hours will know by now Szymborska is a favourite of mine); the marvellous Vancouver poet Elise Partridge; and Victoria’s own Patrick Lane and P.K. Page. Page brings us two exceedingly different, yet equally haunting, journeys—one a childhood flight of the imagination that leads to the deepest mysteries of existence, the other that of a small, determined, burrowing animal.

I hope the Churchmice out there are gathering their own morsels to bring to our humble literary & musical feast. See you all tomorrow evening at St. Mary’s, 1701 Elgin Rd., 7 p.m.

Published by Anita Lahey

I am a journalist, poet, series editor for the Best Canadian Poetry anthology, and a former editor of Arc Poetry Magazine.

4 thoughts on “We Creatures of the Earth Must Move and Move Again—

  1. Anita, these lines of poetry arrow straight to my heart! Especially now since I’m off for a visit to the river marshland farther up (farther down? I never get the direction vis-à-vis the river correct) the St. Lawrence. Snow Geese territory. We’ll see birds migrating.

  2. This sounds most interesting, Anita. Wish I lived closer!

    Do you know Daphne Marlatt’s little book At the River’s Mouth: Writing Migrations? It is quite wonderful (I have a poem called “Migrations”, published in Canthius, that has an epigraph from it)

    From: Henrietta & me Reply-To: Henrietta & me Date: Wednesday, September 27, 2017 at 1:29 AM To: Frances Subject: [New post] We Creatures of the Earth Must Move and Move Again—

    Anita Lahey posted: “. . . a matter of sense—the thousand-eyed, thousand-eared alertness of a flock. The strategies are given names— I don’t know them. What sticks for me is how the air itself is altered. The way light bends back from bellies and wings as they turn. Churchmo”

    1. Frances if only this country were smaller! I can’t tell you how many times I’ve wished I were in Ottawa… Thank you for letting me know about that Marlatt book. I haven’t read it, no. And as I wrote via email, I’d love to see your “Migrations” poem.

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