the heron breaking branches...

Linda Gregg

Now I Understand

Something was pouring out. Filling the field
and making it vacant. A wind blowing them
sideways as they moved forward. The crying
as before. Suddenly I understood why they left
the empty bowls on the table, in the empty hut
overlooking the sea. And knew the meaning
of the heron breaking branches, spreading
his wings in order to rise up out of the dark
woods into the night sky. I understood about
the lovers and the river in January.
Heard the crying out as a battlement,
of greatness, and then the dying began.
The height of passion. Saw the breaking
of the moon and the shattering of the sun.
Believed in the miracle because of the half heard
and the other half seen. How they ranged
and how they fed. Let loose their cries.
One could call it the agony in the garden,
or the paradise, depending on whether
the joy was at the beginning, or after.


A powerful poem - for my days - I keep wrapping my head around. Gregg has such a brilliant hand and ear.


Felicia Mitchell said...

I like how the title "Now I Understand" refers not only to the narrator but also to the poet--and the reader. The poem is the kind I understand deep inside my head in a way that transcends the words themselves. Of course, I also like the scene invoked by the imagery.

sam of the ten thousand things said...

The poem has such an apocalyptic feel. The work of the heron in the piece is so amazing. And the closing lines are so right. Thanks for the read, Felicia.

Pris said...

An amazingly beautiful poem.

esk said...

I enjoyed this poem. I felt as though I was walking with the author as a result of her vivid imagery.

I especially liked the ending, "depending on whether the joy was at the beginning, or after."

M. C. Allan said...

I think Gregg write beautiful poems, but I'm always struck by what seems to me the anxiety of influence. I haven't made a study of it, but when you put her poems and Jack Gilbert's next to each other they sound SO much alike -- the short, almost stammering lines, something about the voice, the subjects and the tone. There are times when I think you could mistake their poems. Not necessarily a bad thing ...

sam of the ten thousand things said...

Thanks for reading, Pris.

And Erika, I agree about the ending. Good point.

MC, there is the familiar in her work. No doubt their connecting lives couldn't help but feed each other's art. She's alive in his poetry - at least a deeper version of herself. Thanks for the read.