Poetry Sampler: Fidelities by Keith Taylor
Christine with Lovebird No. 1
Louise C. Fenne
Fidelities, by Keith Taylor (Alice Greene & Co., 2015) wanders through the ages in poetry and prose, sometimes by way of the Japanese haibun, a prose form with a journey theme that ends (or is interrupted by) or dissolves into a haiku-like poem. The chapbook starts (after a personal dedication and an epigraph) with the fossils:
Drummond Island Fossils
Take the ferry east out of Detour,
then drive up across the alvar plains
to a path that leads you to the shore.
There, rock ledges step down to the lake.
Kneel. Look closely. You’ll see shadows, then
limestone honey-combed with delicate
coral branches that waved from the floor
of an ocean we can’t imagine.
Another poem gives us a ghost forest as an example of what’s no longer here, as well as a sampling of what is:
Kingston Plains: The Ghost Forest
Grey stumps of white pines were almost charred into immortality by a fire so hot it burned off all the organic matter in the top several inches of soil. Little but lichen grew here for 130 years,
a clump of small,
The poems travel to various lands and cultures, full of wonder and empathy, inviting the reader to be an “ecotourist,” too:
Bharatpur: Dying Antelope
The nilgai blue bull
close enough to cow
mother of us all
to be holy
is dying in a copse beside the road to the ecotourist lodge. No one dares euthanize it. Every morning the jackals and striped hyenas have moved closer, but they, too, seem governed by the prohibitions and wait for the nilgai to die.
At night their hungry howls
like surprised cries
from children in pain
startle our windows.
Home again, the poet finds the bluebird (or yellow bird) of happiness in his own back yard:
Christine chooses not to cut back
the stalks of our coneflowers
until spring, so the finches can pull
apart seeds all winter long.
They don’t seem to appreciate that,
or the millet and thistle seeds,
the sunflower hearts and shelled peanuts
we buy for them. The gratitude’s ours
when they descend every other day,
forty or fifty strong, a flurry
of light around the feeders.
The publisher of Taylor’s chapbook, Alice Greene & Co., “is devoted to bringing works of poetry, creativity, and sustainability to readers everywhere.” The gratitude’s ours!
Book cover art by Takeshi Takahara, “Earthbound III”