Each singing

What do butterflies say? If a child asked me that, I’d say “listen.” This past Sunday, my neighbor and I walked up the newly built section of trail that leads from Nyack Beach State Park to the Long Path, which climbs to the peak of Hook Mountain.

We met a woman named Felicia, who teaches at the New York School for the Deaf, who was spending her morning documenting birds of prey in migration, counting and photographing them as they passed by.

While we set up our paints on the rough, gray crowns of basalt pillars, a monarch butterfly, migratory predator of nectar, drifted past us. A hoverfly landed on my bangle and tried to sip from the pretty stones.

What does a mountain say? If a child asked me that, I’d sing a song.

My poetry mentor from graduate school days Richard Jackson gave a reading for students and alumni last week. One poem of his seemed like an answer to the question “what does a poet say?”

The music stops, and you have to play it again just to try to breathe…. a music now lost in the pure music of grief.

—Richard Jackson, VCFA reading, 7 September 2021

Who is ready to listen? Each note lies underneath a mountain of silence. This takes patience.

I’m teaching poetry in classrooms, on porches, in a woodland garden, at the library, and in the backyard of the Edward Hopper House this fall, all of which makes me feel grateful to be singing, though these are often sad songs. Hope to share the listening moment with you; check the Events & Workshops page for details of upcoming opportunities to work together.

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