a frail history: thirteen poems disguised as a passage

 

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It has taken time for this bookwork to come into being.

The text for a frail history: thirteen poems disguised as a passage was written on March 26th, 2014 for Ectopistes migratorius (the now extinct passenger pigeon).

Martha, who was the last surviving passenger pigeon, died on September 1st, 1914 in her cage at the Cincinnati Zoo. After her death she was packed in a block of ice and shipped to the Smithsonian Institute in Washington, D.C. where she now resides (if you can call it that).

The photographs I used for this bookwork were taken at Athabasca Glacier in August 2014, during a three-day return trip to be in slow conversation with that deep and quickly melting ice.

 

(Tuesday, April 14th, 2015)

 

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a frail history: thirteen poems disguised as a passage is a pair of white cotton gloves & a hand bound bookwork printed on an Epson Stylus Pro 3880 printer, on MOAB’s 100% cotton Entrada paper. The approximate dimensions for this bookwork are 4″ x 19″ x 1.75″.

I’d like to acknowledge and thank the British Columbia Arts Council for their support of my in slow conversation project which in part has led to this bookwork.

 

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The following are excerpts from the text/poems for this bookwork:

 

a frail history: thirteen poems disguised as a passage

(for Ecptopistes migratorius)

 

1.

 

a bird, once abundant

known by some as Dark Cloud

disappeared

leaving only the trace of stories

which like phantom wings

still slowly

flap

flap

flap

against my restless mind

 

2.

imagine the familiar

carried off

then brought to these shores

where birds recalled ancestors

passing through spent years

jarring a frozen narrative

 

now flightless birds, collecting stories

in tune and on fire

with recovered words

blurring the historical

 

3.

birds, birds, birds

their mouths swallow half a dozen fields

and a passing vessel

their catch unexpected

 

the flock, fattened by their experience

morphs into a wave

 

4.

reading Ecopistes Migratorius

as fable

as an agglomeration of flight and recalled evidence

entangled with questions

dampens any notion of a clear narrative

 

there’s the appearance of discovery

of collecting the data, the dead, the stuck

of destroying documents

seeing the vanished

hearing theories to explain the speculated, and drowned

often referred to

as news

 

while an unwritten paragraph

warns the imaginative mind

to resist the threat

of knowing

 

9.

death sets us apart

introduces writing

 

we mourn the moment

that provides a lone paragraph

to express the found

and the possible

 

13.

after death dispatched its warning

a wave, hidden in the ocean

still seems to hold promise