(Spring) Keening


(Spring) Keening

The tinnitus of tree frogs
made us wince.  You laughed,
“it really is
almost deafening.”
“Crazy,” I half-
shouted back,

though the dusk itself
fell like damask, a swish of silk, its shifts
of blues, greys, greens unmasked,
as the pond cupped the evening
like a hand over an ear trying to hear
that separate resonance,
as the sky cupped the pond,
the mouth of its
own sea;

in the midst of which
we chased geese.

We’d been chasing them
all afternoon, you longer–a pair–
with shouts and even gun shot–
This last time you snuck up
with the rake, me as decoy,
but found, after they honked away,
two eggs, housed in the soon-to-be taller
grass, deposited
in what must have been
a trice.

You just can’t have geese
in a swimming pond–if you know geese, I don’t need
to tell you why–

“You warned them,” I said.
“All week,” you sighed,
then, balancing the eggs
on the rake’s claw,
moved them somewhere back
from water’s edge.

“Little foxes
need to live too,” I said,
as we each pictured
that poor mangy one
who haunted this same grass
last summer.

Later, on the porch, we waited, dreadful,
for a wail of honk, a wall of honk,
some mournful where are you? that would push against
the frogs’ insistent I’m here–

”Maybe some instinct–”
you said.  “Maybe when they’re scared off
their actual nest–”

as we watched the moon outpace
trees’ reach–so fast it moved
when measured against
branched crowns;

though once on in its own,
in the nothing but deep sky,
the rise seemed, for a while,
to still,
as if the earth stopped turning


A draft poem of sorts for Grapeling’s (Michael’s) “Get Listed” prompt on Real Toads.   Sorry for the length.  

For those who do not suffer from it (!), tinnitus is a ringing in the ears.  The pic is not a spring pic but it shows a mangy fox.



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26 Comments on “(Spring) Keening”

  1. Polly Says:

    Oooh ‘tinnitus of tree frogs’—lovely ☺️

  2. Jamie Dedes Says:

    Oh, don’t apologize for the length. Totally engaging, k.

  3. This is one of the most intriguing poems I have read this week, so many layers… the sorrow for the geese (and no you do not want geese on your pond).. and finding those eggs.. I hope the fox got a good meal.. and over it all this sorrow that seems to be something else than what you usually think about with spring. The past tense of the poem is really well used to create that sorrow. I love this poem.. and I’m not sure why you call it a draft.

    • ManicDdaily Says:

      I call it a draft because it is very new and I am changing it up to the moment I post, and sometimes after, so I’m not confident that it is very “finished.” Some poems I know I would not likely change but this is quite long and I think every time I read it I might consider a change somewhere. So I guess by calling it a draft I am saying that I am still editing it. Thanks for your kind words. K.

    • ManicDdaily Says:

      You know it may well be an affectation to call something a draft. But sometimes–like last night–I was extremely tired posting–falling asleep repeatedly–so calling something a draft gives me a bit more freedom to move ahead–sometimes I don’t mind looking at something once posted, and other times I can hardly tolerate it–so it helps with those feelings too. k.

  4. Gillena Cox Says:

    luv the resonance of the moon being involved in the hunt; the mood is quite intriguing

    much love…

  5. Jim Says:

    I like the concern for care of nature here, k. I have sat on our back porch watching the grass, the birds, and the trees. Soaring hawks are the prettiest.
    Yes, I have tinnitus. It never stops, some times louder than others. I do have one of my stories about trying to stop it but it’s too long for here.
    I like your fox picture but am missing your little elephant.

    • Jim Says:

      Sorry about the elephant, he/she is in your header.
      Texas has the “Castle Doctrine.” has had it for a long time. If they are in your ‘castle’ and you fear for your life, shoot them. Now even if they are robbing you or stealing, shoot them to protect your property.

  6. Sanaa Says:

    I think the length adds to the overall beauty of this poem.. 😀

  7. hedgewitch Says:

    I echo Bjorn’s feeling of the layers in this, and how they seem so skillful and so subtle that they insinuate their nuance of sadness and of life’s ironies like a delicate herb flavors some exquisitely prepared dish, one that, like coriander or rosemary, can never leave the dish the same. Of all the word play here, from the cup/mouth, the damask unmasked, the crowns that make nature regal as well as natural, I think the way you use dreadful especially stands out. Fine writing K–and I also wrote very long for this–I didn’t want to or mean to, but maybe it is just that kind of moon out there, or that kind of release after a month of planning and posing words relentlessly.

    • ManicDdaily Says:

      Thanks. I was worried about that dreadful and finally went with it so I am especially glad you liked it. I did a short one on the prompt this morning that just came up but I think I should sit with it a little before posting — but I do think there is something about all the words of April that makes it harder to be succinct. Thanks again. K.

  8. Amidst the joy of spring lies melancholy..you have brilliantly weaved it into this piece.

  9. coalblack Says:

    Poor geese parents. Lucky fox, tonight dinner is easy.

  10. whimsygizmo Says:

    I love the sound this makes on my tongue:
    “The tinnitus of tree frogs”

    Great piece.

  11. humbird Says:

    Moving piece, fun to read of awakening nature/animals life around in spring, interesting sensation in last lines…

  12. You take me right there into the scene, so clearly. I can see those eggs….can hear the concern in your later conversation…….LOVED the title!

  13. ladynyo Says:

    I don’t usually like long poems, but this kept me fascinated through to the end. Lovely. There is great color in all of these stanzas.


  14. Snakypoet (Rosemary Nissen-Wade) Says:

    Don’t apologise for the length! This was enthralling and I hung on every word. (The ‘list’ words were woven in so seamlessly, I had to do a second read to look for them!)

  15. Mama Zen Says:

    Oh, this is gorgeous!

  16. Opal Onyx Says:

    Your title is so clever.

    This is excellent, Karin. I love it. I’m particularly drawn to the second stanza and the last two. Excellent work.

  17. I love the calmness of this exchange, the important points made with such an ease, the obvious tenderness shared between the speakers, the goodwill aimed towards another living creature.. Beautiful! ♥

  18. M Says:

    you know my take on your pens, k – take whatever time you need to carve the image. as Bjorn et al note, when it’s quality – and your invariably are – you give the reader a treat, especially with how he and Hedge not the complexity. I liken much of your work to a good meal (one of my favorite metaphors, but another story there) – they take time to create, and time to savor. not everything is meant to be made or consumed in a flash. as you can see, I enjoy this piece, and while I admire your candor (draft, etc.) – me, I just go back and edit and tell no one. it’s not like anyone reads them anyways, after a day 🙂 – and thanks, as always, for your support, and for adding your voice ~

    • ManicDdaily Says:

      Ha–well, thank you. I sometimes have serious blocks about going back–there are some I don’t mind to work on again, and others I just cannot face once I’ve put them up–(most)–I don’t know what comes over me–but it can be a real problem. Anyway, thanks as always for great prompt and your own work. (And kindness.) k.

  19. Kerry O'Connor Says:

    You turn experience and conversation into poetry with seeming ease. This has an amazing flow and lots to think about too (like I would give my pond to the geese and throw food for the fox but really I think how we should all leave nature to its own devices, handouts, rakes and shotguns cast aside).

    • ManicDdaily Says:

      Ha. I feel sorry for the geese but we swim in the pond all the time– even take cold swims sometimes in winter– and the geese pollute it terribly. It would not be possible to swim. But I know how you feel– I wouldn’t use a gun but my husband uses it sometimes for noise value. Geese are not there very long– and I did see these two by a stream near us the next afternoon — at least I think it was them– and they seemed to have found a spot. But it is a hard problem/ decision — these types of things come up in the country in crazy and sometimes sad ways. Thanks, Kerry. K.

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