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Still, Life

April 5, 2010

by Catherine Jagoe

the world is warming
the Antarctic ice shelf just lost
a chunk large as Manhattan magnified by seven
if you live in America
my land by emigration

in Britain the land of my birth
that chunk was the Isle of Man

in Spain my land by adoption
it was the province of Burgos

to feel loss we have to make it local
the globe our yard

once as a child I saw a Portuguese man’o’war
mauve caravel in pristine waters
cruise downwind off the Outer Hebrides
but now my humming screen predicts the Gulf
Stream that hugs the British Isles
could stray plunging the kingdom into a new
Ice Age

last year I saw twelve storks trying to nest on one church tower
in old Castile no longer
migrating south to Africa

but winter here on the Great Lakes was so hard the squirrels
gnawed the bark from the small high branches
ice dammed on eaves and melted into ceilings
highways became rutted village lanes
and icicles hazardous to passing humans
mice invaded our basement to steal cat food
which they stored in the oven thereby
setting it on fire

the recently emerged yards
are muddy as flood-grounds
spring has come violent here
this week I saw a home lurch
whole and entire into a brown maelstrom
and break apart roof upside down a foundered ark


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Catherine Jagoe is a poet and translator. Poems from her chapbook Casting Off (Parallel Press, 2007) have been featured on The Writer’s Almanac and Poetry Daily. Her translations include two novels, one from Spain, That Bringas Woman (Everyman, 1996) and one from Argentina, My Name Is Light (Bloomsbury, 2003). She recently finished translating a memoir about the Arctic from Catalan into English.

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  1. April 5, 2010 at 5:11 pm

    fabulous

  2. natalie parker-lawrence
    April 6, 2010 at 10:04 am

    still life–so beautiful with the “chunks” missing from the stanzas.

  3. April 6, 2010 at 11:22 am

    I really like how the poem flows so easily from global to local – it doesn’t feel forced. The imagery is stunning; I was especially taken with the storks on the tower and the mice setting the stove on fire. Quite a compelling poem.

  4. Mary Davis Michaud
    April 28, 2010 at 9:22 pm

    Stunning.

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