Here, a poem I wrote for my friend Bob Muir. Find more poems by Bob Shepherd (and essays about reading and writing poetry) here: https://bobshepherdonline.wordpress.com/category/poetry/.
Lichtung, Midsummer, No Fairies | Bob Shepherd
Where have you gone, fairies of my childhood?
Have I grown too blustering and blundering,
Too puffed up with knowledge and opinions?
I seek you in the clearing of the wood
And there find only the luminescence
You have left behind, hanging in the heavy
Midsummer’s air. Is this, then,
What is left me? This ripeness, this
Completedness, this disclosedness,
In the clearing, of the present at hand,
Naked and heavy as flesh?
I seek you by the margins of the lake,
And there find dragonflies and damselflies,
And the silver bodies of mullet jumping,
Breaking free of one world into another,
Again and again, as though they would
Break free for good or die trying.
And these are wonders, surely, but
They but intensify the longing you left,
With your mark upon my body,
When you returned me to the cradle.
How could I see those and not be reminded
Of the shimmering of your wings
By moonlight as we danced? I am wise to you.
This is what you do, is it not?
You return us, you leave us with the world
And the knowing that this richness beyond measure,
This clearing, for all its fullness, is not all,
Is not all at all, at all, at all.
It is a hard lesson, and I am, doubtless,
As slow a learner as the rest. But where have you gone?
I would ask the trees, for those of their
Gossiping, garrulous race would doubtless know,
And the wind is rising, and they are bending their heads,
One to another, on the opposite shore, and
Making a racket. Are they oblivious? Do they mock?
I cannot know, for I haven’t their language.
Perhaps one could learn it, in time.
Perhaps if I sat here and listened long enough,
I could figure it out, for surely the San tongue
Sounds equally incomprehensible to the anthropologist,
Hearing it spoken, at first,
Within the clearing that is their world, in all its fullness,
With its ways of disclosing and of shutting out.
Copyright 2011, Robert D. Shepherd. All rights reserved.
Love your website!
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Neanderthal, thank you. I very much appreciate that. I read recently, BTW, that some Neanderthal burials involved ceremonial arrangement of the body and of artifacts and thus represent some of the very oldest examples of the symbolic use of materials. It’s also quite interesting that we now know that the Neanderthals were assimilated, not killed off–that we carry Neanderthal genes. It’s wonderful to think of a time when there were all these distinct Hominids on the planet–a Lord of the Rings world with several types of humans. At any rate, thanks for taking the time to stop, linger, and read a bit. Warm regards, Bob
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According to genetic research, human DNAs (except subSaharan Africans) contain between 3% to 5% Neanderthal genes. Apart from the Neanderthals, there were also at least two to three other hominins that could have interbred with Homo sapiens, though it is still too early to determine their respective genetic contributions.
My 7th grade daughter read your poem. The following is our dialogue.
Me: what did you think of it?
J: I loved it!
Me: what did you think it was about?
J: it was about growing up.
Me: do you remember yesterday when we were hiking and you said you found a place where the fairies live? I thought you might like the poem.
J: I loved it !
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That’s just beautiful, Roy. Thank you, and much love to you and your daughter!