Friday, April 11, 2008

Black River

I've been discovering some Canadian poetry recently through the Porcupine's Quill Press. They were kind enough to send along Kenneth Sherman's Black River last year; my husband read it first, quite a while ago, and enjoyed it, calling it a book to "make us mindful and much more conscious of our relationship to this land and to those we share it with."

It's difficult to excerpt a poem from this lovely collection, as each piece works together to finally form one long poem. It's a meditation on Sherman's experience travelling along the Black River, meandering into musings on different historical moments and reflections on nature. Here's a sample:


And down below, the baby bass,
nosing, touching tentative,
their fan-like tails fringed with Japanese ink --
silk in the shallow pools.

Shadows of the hanging willow
cast over them,
shade them in the aquatic cradle
as they sway to no music,
startle and split,
then regroup
each staring into its mirror image.

What do they ponder,
suspended there like little harbingers?

Were they too
fostered by beauty and fear?

When they grow
they travel alone
in the school of their solitude,
grim-mouthed, gills kneading their being,
foraging through the frigid gloom.

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