Sunday, September 18, 2011


In Dana Wilde's review of Wildness Within Walking Distance he made comments  relating to my kinship with Thoreau and my tendency, as a scientist, to reinforce my poems with evidence. Shortly after reading the review I uncovered, by coincidence (honestly) the poem I'm pasting here, written some years ago.

Measured Response

In spring when the first geese arrive,
confirming the season: when migrant
flocks pass in fall, it's hard to resist 
the temptation to count them all.
Don't you ever, reading Leaves Of Grass.
wonder how many there actually are?

This morning water striders are dotting
the pond. Each jerky stride dimples
the surface, sparking a flash of
reflected light. If I count flashes
per square yard, assuming uniform
distribution, know the pond's area —

At five PM, November twenty-third,
eighteen fifty-three, Thoreau notes
thirty-six geese flying high, south west, 
in the usual harrow formation. 
He assumed an average wing span 
so they were flying eight feet apart.

I'm not alone it seems in trying
to tie numbers to the experienced
as if all had been seen. The setting
sun in Concord, a rising breeze
in Poland Spring ends calculations.
Both scenes survive menstruation.

Perhaps the urge to measure, to count, is a basic human trait. Or am I over reaching here. It's surely not just scientists and naturalists but, perhaps, not everyone.