The Immortal Lake (part one)

Posted by ractrose on 16 Aug 2016 in Art, Poems

Oil painting of Ivory-billed Woodpecker flying in cypress swamp




The Immortal Lake (part one)


Now rose like the deadly rhythm of its prose

So many letters

Sugar in the bowels of flying ants

The bartering itself was such an effort

Ceaseless work performed to ceaseless song

The overseer’s voice coming on

The knocking and the pattern carved on trees

He, but for his flash of wings, has no other plea

The jarring of the diamondback

The jarring of the chuck-will’s-widow

Blood suckers lay themselves so thick

The cloak of them is like the shade

He finds only her dog lying stoic

In a pool of water to its neck

And a tarp nailed across the window

A crate nestled on a hammock

Wood too soft to bear the weight

She no longer keeps the place

He had never seen the living bird

May be wind inspired

The ghost, the numen

Raised to flout the guns in condemnation

The crate is filled with moss and topped

With sticky paper

Topped with flies

He would try the immortal lake

Listen for a plaint that the mockingbird recalls

He can sing the whooshing of the pump

And the motor of the chain saw






Excerpt from essay, Planet Earth and the Ivory-billed Woodpecker:


Dr. Underhill said, if we would destroy insects, we must preserve birds. Birds which run up the trunks of trees, like the Woodpeckers, are of especial benefit. They dig out the larvae of insects from the bark and devour it. A Cat-bird would destroy a hundred caterpillars in a day. Where birds, even Crows, are destroyed, it is through lack of knowledge of their usefulness.


Account of a Farmer’s Club meeting, “City Items”, NY Tribune, 1846.


His ardent desire was to kill an Ivory-billed woodpecker. “I have never seen but one,” he said, “and that was in the Smithsonian Institute.”


Correspondent Amos J. Cummings on General Francis E. Spinner, onetime U.S. Treasurer, Helena Daily Independent, 1891.



The Immortal Lake
Oil painting of Native American woman steering boat passenger in short-sleeved dress shirt

The Immortal Lake (part two)
My Curious Reading: Planet Earth and the Ivory-billed Woodpecker














(2016, Stephanie Foster)





Find this poem in Mystery PlaysVirtual cover for poetry collection Mystery Plays












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