A Job Only a Poet Could Manage

I have a “Useless Knowledge” gadget on my iGoogle home page, and I just love it.  Knowledge is never useless, no matter how seemingly “impractical.”  I was so happy earlier today when my Useless Knowledge box contained a list of Generic Terms.  Generic Terms, as defined in my Poet’s Dictionary (William Packard, editor), are “collective names for species or types,” like “school of fish.”  I once wrote a poem inspired by one item on that list: a murder of crows.  The interesting part of that story is that the poem is a meandering contemplation, the subject of which is the loss of a child.  I would rather not say what emotional experience I drew upon while crafting the poem, but I will tell you that I have never, thankfully, lost a child.  Why this poem would emerge from my desire to write something about “a murder of crows,” I don’t know.

Today, I can’t decide if I am more intrigued about the possibility of writing something about a “pitying of turtledoves” or a “descent of woodpeckers,” but I am intrigued.  One thing I do know: whoever is responsible for the inventing of these generic terms was a poet.  Of that, there can be no doubt.

Here is the poem referred to in this post.  I wrote it some years ago.  Thanks for reading.

One Side of the Window

Out there
in the yard a murder of crows
with nowhere to go
and beyond,
sandy gravel road
that passes without stopping
and beyond,
and rows of corn
the wind pushes forward
and beyond,
a bluer
than a baby’s eyes sky
full of those white clouds
that fly and make shapes
like elephants or stallions
who gallop and race and stretch
out their snouts
‘til they turn into stiles, steps
that run for miles between the stones
up green hills
green hills behind the house
this house where, on
this side of the window
there is nothing to notice
but the silence of a nursery
nursery with wallpaper border
of cotton puff lambs looking sad-eyed
down the faded pink walls
down walls that surround
the sole source of light. They look
down then
out through the panes,
out over the crows in the yard,
over the road
past rows and rows of corn
up to the sky
and beyond.

Suzanne B. Leitner

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