Guest Poet: Erin Robertson

(Please note: I made an error which resulted in an incorrect URL when originally posting this page. I am keeping this page up so the first few comments could be read. Please do not make new comments on this page, but instead open Guest Poet: Erin Robertson (2), and make your comments there.)

I want to introduce you to Erin Robertson.

Erin likes hearing people’s stories, backpacking, writing (especially poetry), getting her hands in the dirt, spending time with children, and listening to music better than most things.  She lives in Louisville, Colorado with her remarkable husband and two sons.  Her work won a First Place in the 2016 Michael Adams Poetry Prize, has been performed as choral works by Ars Nova Singers, and was included in the 2015 Art Inspired by the Land show at the Boulder Public Library.  You can read more of her poetry in the anthology MycoEpithalamia:  Mushroom Wedding Poems, in FUNGI Magazine, and on her website:  erinrobertson.org.

The two poems below show why I am so impressed with her work. I’m sure she would appreciate your comments.

MSO

The raptor lady warned us owls are dim

but I’ve no sense of that here in the canyon,

my back to the rough, cold rock,

craning to see each fluffed

brown-and-cream pineconey feather,

that impossibly prim slim half-moon of hornlike beak,

the quizzical grizzled white stubble shooting out of the inner eye corners,

the oh-so-slow unperturbed motion: parting eye, retracting lid,

until one deep brown orb takes you in for a moment,

languidly;

and there you are,

considering each other,

drawn in by that intelligent chestnut pool,

seen,

magnificently seen

by this very owl

who makes no move to leave,

simply contemplates you in a

caterpillar-y “Who are you?”

silent aloof composed supercilious way.

What grabs me most is the talons:

three more horny beaks curled around the rather small branch,

piercing it, surely,

one other casually held aloft – unnecessary, mere accessory:

the zygodactylous X.

After a silent while the owl stretches,

lifts one leg and reveals the tough leathery pad of foot

(exactly like a falconer’s glove),

then curls talons together

and quietly tucks this fistful of hooks

high into its soft breast,

clutched there like a little Bonaparte

for the rest of our visit.

“Thank you,” I breathe,

to the owl,

to the boys (for not wrestling),

to Alex (for driving the long way willingly),

to the canyon and the tree,

to good weather and absent fire,

to all things seen and unseen that conspired to bring us together,

and back to the owl, for staying close,

for somehow forgiving one more unfinished manuscript:

the Mexican Spotted Owl Activist Guide.

 

Pinus aristata

coming into the presence of bristlecones

always arrests me

I stop short

do a doubletake

survey the signs:

short needles

bunches of five

spangled with pitch

black-red- purple cones

spiked and glistening

check check check check

oh!

I should fall to my knees

lay my head against a trunk

stretch out in the middle of the stand

breathing whatever they desire

picturing my bones weathered and twisted like their ancient striped brown-red- grey

naked polished

burned trunks

a thousand years after all notice of my existence has passed

they may still hold this moment

between us now

Published by

sanberdooboy

I've been writing mostly poetry for many years and have gotten a number of works accepted in publications and anthologies. I'm most interested in communicating with poets for whom craft is a high priority. I enjoy finding and commenting on poetic gems in other people's work. For my own work, I welcome polite comments, whether positive or critical.

10 thoughts on “Guest Poet: Erin Robertson”

    1. Thanks for spending some time with my work, Jana. I read your recent post on vulnerability and empathy. When I first became a parent I felt an overwhelming vulnerability. Now I feel like it is a strength to feel so intensely. Here’s a poem I wrote for our oldest son’s first birthday that explores this. (Will was my grandfather.)

      Owen at One Year

      “You and I always loved each other”
      Will wrote
      and it is true
      I can’t remember a day when I didn’t
      and loving each other has just been like breathing
      (for me)
      but you came to us
      and suddenly I knew a fierce love and
      “unconditional”
      and saw all the conditions I have placed on
      my other loves,
      reserving some vulnerability,
      protecting against rejection.
      But seven weeks went by without even a smile from you
      and it didn’t matter one bit.
      Now it just happens that you are,
      as Alex says,
      one f-ing cute baby,
      with a great sense of humor,
      but these are merely happy accidents.
      Even when you turn red,
      do your full-on baby swearing,
      pump your legs in hopeless misery –
      I catch your eye and see the same look, the same soul
      as the moment of your birth –
      you will always be that baby of ours.
      Now that we share so many jokes,
      and you have done so much incarnating (as they say),
      becoming a more whole person,
      I look back at what you were and think,
      how did that baby then captivate me so,
      when he could share so little?
      And, of course, how is it that one day I will look back at now and think the same?
      It is such a miracle to love you the same every day,
      and at the same time every day have a more complete person to love.
      “What do you enjoy most about Owen?”
      she asks.
      Dumbstruck, I repeat the question,
      as in, are you serious?
      You exist, you came to us.
      Everything else,
      the way you tilt your head to the side and look up from under your brows to bring us back to you,
      reminding us to be present, to be silly;
      your super excited “guh!” and “ckc!” reminding us about the miracle of fish,
      or cats,
      or potential friends;
      the way you stretch your hand straight in the air as if to
      grab an experience –
      the rustle of aspen leaves, the feel of water, the sound of a particularly loud clang you’ve made
      (“I absolve you!” Daddy says you are announcing);
      the irrepressible bubbling of your laughter;
      these are all incidental, and enjoyable,
      but transitory and irrelevant in a way.
      “What do you want for Owen?”
      she also asks.
      There is only one answer, and we shrug
      and say it and mean it completely –
      “To be happy!”
      Happy first birthday, Babealish.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Thank you for this poem Erin. It brings to my heart these same moments of intensely loving and all this asks of us. Now, I experience my two daughters navigating these waters with their own children… my incredibly inquisitive, imaginative grandchildren. I still see my daughters in the length and fullness of their lives… as sweet babes that entered the world in my care. I’m their intimate witness!
        I love your voice, Erin. It echoes everything that touches you in the finest detail we can feel and touch ourselves. A call in the wild….xxxooo

        Like

    1. Thanks for your kind words, Chris, and for signing up for my email list! I visited your blog and was impressed by your spare intense poems. I always find it much harder to write short than to write long, and I’ve been trying to remind myself “distill distill distill”. You may also like the poetry of Rosemerry Wahtola Trommer. She published a book recently that is all 3 line poems that go with brushstroke images an artist friend of hers created: http://www.lithicpress.com/index.php/our-catalog/60-even-now Many of them are posted on her blog: https://ahundredfallingveils.com (look for her posts mid-October and earlier)
      and you can see some of the original paintings paired with poems here: https://www.facebook.com/gallery81435/shop?cid=527173587478151 She also writes short poems like these on rocks and leaves them around Telluride for people to discover.

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks, Wanda! I visited your website and enjoyed your vaquero art – you are able to convey so much motion in each drawing. I especially loved the colors in the bear drawing. Thanks again for spending some time with my words.

      Like

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