Monday, July 11, 2016
WILD APPLE: Poet HeeDuk Ra celebrates insects . . .
A Water Bucket Filled By Half, and a volume of literary criticism, Where Does the Purple Come From?
Mixed media painting by Christal Rice Cooper
String of chili peppers and bleached white cow's skull hang in a market place in Santa Fe, New Mexico. Attributed to Andrew Dunn. CCBYSA2.0
Australia. CCBYSA3.0 Attributed to Bjorn Christian Torrisen.
in one moment became dull
no sound was heard
In “Full but Hungry” Ra compares two full butterflies to two sisters, one who birthed six children and the other barren, and both sit in a rose garden after eating a full lunch. Toward the end of the poem, the butterfly overstuffed with nectar symbolizes the full woman overstuffed with unfertilized eggs.
She raised three adopted kids
but her full stomach has not disappeared
as if extra space is left in her there
she stops to smell flowers one by one.
hiding in her fullness hunger sniffs
like a butterfly with nectar still to be collected.
“Because We See Fireflies” is dedicated to Burmese female writer Khet Mar, whom HeeDuk Ra met in the International Writing Program in Iowa.
HeeDuk Ra wrote the poem in response to the horrible news that on September 26, 2007 Myanmar’s armed forces ruthlessly killed groups of civilians protesting for democracy.
In the poem HeeDuk Ra offers encouragement to Khet Mat, the Burmese people, and humanity by using the metaphors of fireflies to represent peace, and crickets giving us the ability to speak despite our mouths being silenced.
Left, firefly larva CCBYSA3.0. Right, male cricket (Gryllus) chirping. CCBYSA3.0
Because We See Fireflies
So Khet Mar, don’t cry, it will be alright
wipe your tears and look at those fireflies,
they are flickering with dim lights just like us.
Often closing our mouths while speaking in broken words,
you and I sit on the edge of the river and hear crickets chirp;
we here might be similar to those insects,
but I understand your broken words,
you understand my broken words more than anyone,
because they come from the same sadness.
Fireflies radiating light in the darkness, or
crickets chirping by rubbing their wings,
both have bare feet the same as us.
So Khet Mar, don’t cry, everything will be all right,
no one will die,
because we see fireflies this evening.
Our flickering light
will be seen by our children in the distance too;
toys are broken and trees have fallen,
yet peace will come to the children’s bare feet too.
The last poem in the collection, “The House I Left” describes me and anyone who takes the time to read and digest Wild Apple as a moth in awe, and in great comfort, despite the cold world we may inhabit.
Six-spot burnet moth extracting nector from a Knautia flower. CCBYSA3.0
Now I’m making a fire.
A moth sleeping on the hearth flies up, amazed,
smoke rises from damp wood.
Why does the fire keep going out?
You’re dark, like the inside of the hearth.
Pondering that makes me dark, too.
I should have left the light on
But remember this:
Today, like a shard of ice that won’t thaw
although the fire is lit, I’ll insulate you
until spring’s pheasants fly to a brighter place.