How my back was broken for the untrue —
the closed hip —
the torrent that was confined there.

The damage,


How it still takes work
to keep it from being obvious.

Who would dive into that wreckage?


How the wild shadow witched me.

How the bluebird soothed
and courted me.

How this landscape was my only true love.

… . …

During the fall migration, on these cool but sunny, warming sorts of fall mornings (from 49 to 60 degrees F while I walked today), I come across a lot of mixed flocks of birds.
Robins and redwing blackbirds.
Cedar waxwings and purple finches.
And 3 different flocks of bluebirds mixed with goldfinches, 2 of them with some field sparrows, too.
Most of these are year-round residents.
Robins can be found in large flocks along small wooded waterways in the deep winter, usually on days when the temperature gets close to or above 30 degrees F.
Goldfinches can be found taking cover in the woody edges on cold days and looking for seeds among the prairie plants on warmer days in winter. They sometimes even pass through the backyard in the less frigid winters. You have to plant native things that they like to eat. Asters. Sunflowers. Coneflower. Black-eyed Susans.
There’s a value in attempting to re-create continuous habitat. Let’s do that.
Bluebirds can be found on the coldest winter mornings, if the sun is shining, quietly singing a single note at the top of a tree. They like the woody edges.
Filmore, the bird guy who long ago moved — to Arkansas? to Oklahoma? — told me that in winter, you could look in the nesting boxes and find sometimes a dozen bluebirds all nestled together.
In the last flock of bluebirds I saw this morning, I counted more than two dozen (along with a dozen or so goldfinches). One of the largest flocks of bluebirds I’ve ever seen.
Perhaps it was a successful year for them.
There were some loners this morning too, of course. A hermit thrush singing its heart out at the inlet, the evaporating fog over the cattails like smoke.
Saw a warbler of some sort. Blue-winged warbler, I’d say.
Later I saw a kestrel. It frightened a whole flock of goldfinches my way. They’re almost completely changed from yellow now.
Seeing the diversity of species in the relatively small acreage of the Marsh (without really trying! I forgot my binoculars today) makes me wonder how it would have been 30 years ago. Before we lost 3 billion birds. (

fieldnotes 10.4.16

‘there aint no remedy for a song come to an end’

Even in the midst of it and trying to be mindful,
the change is a sudden blink of an eye.

Remember how hard it is to grab hold the spinning wheel.

Gods, I have wasted so many years.

Bees on the aster,
a full and frenzied final gathering,
though the oaks are still mostly green.
They will be the last.

The anticipatory.

We are all wondering —
have we gathered enough sweet to withstand the freeze?

(In our Januaries, will we remember those raspberries?)

Redwings call —
a reminder it always comes back ’round —

but we remember —

each time they are fewer,
fewer familiar,
to come with it.

And we need to know all the names before we are lost.


(we will never know all the names, so settle on what we love best.) meadow flowers have peaked. trees getting ready to. milkweed bugs crawling on each other on the dying seedpods. a goldfinch flock at the top of the hill. butter-and-eggs on the way down. indiangrass fiery. ‘there is no home. there is no bread.’ chipping sparrow. magnolia warbler. pelicans still at the north end, funny heads aslant. 4 egrets. canada geese of course. a frog that sounds like a peeper. cabbage whites. white crowned sparrows. yellow rumped warblers. colors on the prairie a heartache that fades. flock of robins. red paper wasp. 10 o’clock siren, I’m slow today. how much longer will there be singing bugs? clouded sulphur. dry tops of queen annes lace. can’t resist walking into the bluestem again, its seeds in my cuffs and pockets. in my socks and hair. a flicker. tie my shirt round my hips. yellow warbler. egret’s throaty growl. bluebird across the river echo on the water. damn cockleburs. geese by the dozens over the trees sliding onto the marsh. eastern comma. eastern wood peewee.

Quote 1 (remedy): Kev Russell’s Junker / ‘Twilight of Song’ from Buttermilk & Rifles (2002)
Quote 2 (no home or bread): Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds / ‘Stranger Than Kindness’ from Your Funeral … My Trial (1986)

about fieldnotes

fieldnotes was written at the Marsh beginning Sept. 26, 2016 and ending near the same time in the following year, collected in memo books over the course of many rambling walks.
Beginning on Sept. 26, 2019, three years after the writing, fieldnotes will be published in its entirety, with posts appearing as the corresponding write-dates occur.
(at least to the best of my ability)

(tbt) Muladhara

From Aug. 14, 2012…


It’s deep in the bone,
and coming back:
the root on the mend.

It is not time, yet —
to stand,
to walk,
to fly.

First, sit.
Dig deep.
Bring the blood back to it.

Open the bowl of your hip
and remember how
to pull and replace
rusted nails.

Now, pour in the red wine
to see where it leaks.
Mend it with acorn paste
and cardinal calls.

Light a flame
to burn off the decay;
add salt and sage
to open the wind door.

Scrub it down
with madder-dyed wool
from a down-heavy sheep.
Turn off the alarms.

Fill a stoneware bowl,
finger painted,
beets and cherries,
grapes and small red tomatoes
warmed by the sun —

clay bricks
stacked in a terrace
to hold black dirt
and the crawlers who nourish it —

rose petals,
and a snake
to encircle —

a resonant nest
filled with the noise
of one hundred bees
and gravel footsteps.

Make it solid and strong,
but not still —
It will be something
to build upon.



((after that))

October came and I was something different again.
An aster —
a sweet that abides the fall.

And there is that moment of —
(hope is yet too strong a word) —
of light.

Of light,
and faith in life.

To a varying degree,
we grow a guard.
But the singing wire between matter and matter —
what matters —
never ceases.

Eternal throb and hum.

You need to let something go.
Cast off that self you’ve collected.
Give it to the wind

like the cottonwoods their leaves.

(You don’t have to share this with the world.)

The night is the night.
It falls.

But today I am content
to sit beside you and wait.