Thursday, March 27, 2008



All desire. No forgiveness.
Years later it was early spring with red-winged blackbird,
Goldfinch, faithful Canada goose on the trail
And return of the tree swallows.

“The tree swallow glides in circles,
Ending each glide
With 3 or 4 quick flaps
And a short climb.”*

Then I remembered.
He was sitting close to me.
Mr. Solitary Crow skipped by us like a child.
We laughed until we were children again.

This was how I experienced love.
I was innocent of forgiveness.

* from A Field Guide to Western Birds, second edition, 1961, by Roger Tory Peterson, p. 159.

("People Listening" (1984) and "Two Innocents with Experience" (2000), by Old Girl Of The North Country)

When I looked out at Scudder Pond yesterday afternoon, the tree swallows were flying back and forth in the sunlight above the golden cattails.


Dale said...


The Solitary Walker said...

This is very interesting, subtle, complex and Blakeian, am.

Nature is "innocent" and full of desire, with no forgiveness - nothing to forgive, in the natural world, the concept is meaningless.

We humans have innocence (perhaps in the womb and for a few years after). Some still retain it (Dostoyevsky's "Idiot" for example) - and others attain a kind of hard won "innocence" after "experience" (the Buddha, some of the Christian saints).

True forgiveness, of others and ourselves, is I suppose the difficult-to-achieve goal, the true manifestation of love.

R.L. Bourges said...

"innocent of forgiveness"
when all is said and done, sometimes I think that forgiveness is really a game the mind plays with itself. What we try so hard to achieve through forgiving, nature handles through plain old forgetfulness.
(and of course, I love your painting. comme toujours.)

Loren said...

The worst part of being sick this week was missing Monday and Tuesday sunshine while out birding.

Love your description of the swallows, am.

Dawn said...

I sure do like your painting Am! great colors! I am glad you had swallows.

am said...

dale -- Thanks for stopping by, comme toujours ( learned the French from Lee).

solitary walker -- Appreciated your thoughts on innocence and forgiveness. You reminded me that Reinhold Niebuhr was part of the inspiration for this poem. He wrote:

"No virtuous act is quite as virtuous from the standpoint of our friend or foe as from our own. Therefore, we are saved by the final form of love which is forgiveness."

lee -- I am moved by the thought that forgiveness is accomplished by nature. Not sure that it is always accomplished by forgetfulness, but that it is accomplished by nature rings true to me.

loren -- Good to hear from you. Was sorry to hear that you haven't feeling well. My guess is that if you are visiting blogs, you are feeling better. My Zen calendar said "In a dark time, the eye begins to see" on March 26.

dawn -- Am so grateful to you for posting the photo of the hummingbird a few weeks ago. I continue to enjoy the one who has come to my feeder ever since the first day I hung it on my porch.

all who stop by without leaving comments -- Thanks so much for your presence, too.

robin andrea said...

This is such an interesting, evocative post, am. The poem and the lines from the field guide intertwined like that. I like it so much, especially with the beautiful painting.

I saw the tree swallows one day, then not again. Yet.

Anonymous said...

near leavenworth last weekend on the road to plain, the swallows were back, in olympia on tuesday. this is such a fine calendar.kjm

am said...

robin andrea -- Now that I think of it, I only saw the swallows on that one sunny day, too.

anonymous -- I imagine Plain, Washington to be beautiful in early spring. The first time I visited there was last October. I recall visiting near Winthrop one early spring. That must have been about 30 years ago.