Friday, June 02, 2006

Climbing out of Depression Poem #21

You, Cardinal

Crimson startled the snow--
powder shook from his feet.
Between sunflower seeds
his raccoon eyes
gave no thought to benefactors
so I buried my face
in the editorial section
like a hunting blind,
hoping he’d linger.

Above the paper I'd spy him
handsome as a captain,
his pyramidal tuft
like a German helmet
and I had gotten used to him
and he, perhaps, to me,
when glancing through
the window he was gone.

The void surprised me.
What did I expect?
That he would stay?
Ah, the mind invents hopes
and you, cardinal,
though your feathers be dipped in blood,
know nothing of the sadness
new absences bring.

**********************

As we near the end of the speaker's depressive episode, having only six more poems to add to it, the speaker encounters a healthy emotion--sadness--(as opposed to the sadness-without-an-object of serious depression). And in a tradition as old as poetry, he envies a lesser being, one not so afflicted with memory, a bird. He recognizes their relationship is unequal, that he has invested more feeling in the cardinal than the cardinal in him; he realizes the bird will never connect the available winter food with the poet; even so the brief encounter is enough to generate a feeling of loss in a sensitive soul. If more optimistic the speaker might have thought about what new bird might come next, but as things stand, the speaker can only think about what he's lost.

--CE

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