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.


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