Turtle Blessing, Details and Sample Pages
La Alameda Press, Albuquerque, New Mexico, 1996.
Book Design by J. B. Bryan
5½ x 7½", 60 pages, perfect bound, $11.
"Penny Harter speaks with the wisdom of her kinship to the greater
biotic community. Her meld of intuition, intelligence, talent and
command has resulted in an exceptional collection of poems that
reflects great reverence for the spirit of Nature while offering
glimpses of the hubris that characterizes our own species. This elegant volume is important both poetically and philosophically." ~ Jack Loeffler
"Both Turtle Blessing and the new poems are fine, fresh, and striking." ~ X. J. Kennedy
the totemic ancestors walked across the land leaving words and musical
notes in their footprints. The aboriginals read the country as a
In the Dream Time,
the Ancestors went underground,
Honey-Ant here, Wallaby there,
after their magic feet
had planted songs in the dust,
and by these songs, the people
learned each totem path,
singing the holy hillock, sacred spring,
and burning bush of their clan;
mapping kinship where the tongue shifted
but the song continued,
humming up from the underworld
like the first rivers.
When I listen to the whales
calling deep sea currents alive,
their repeating melodies answered
across great distances;
when I hear the wolves, the birds—
all the tribes descended from the Ancestors
learning the planet by ear,
definining it by song
as the wind does each tree,
I do what I can,
throwing this song out from my house
like a rope in search of water
through the fire.
This morning, the car in front of me
stops suddenly, waits
as five deer emerge from somebody's
crossing the frosty grass
to bound across the Boulevard
into the saplings of the Great Swamp.
I don't know what to do
about the pregnant doe
I counted dead by the side of the road
three mornings last week,
her white belly shining
in the sunrise;
about the young buck hit yesterday,
spun down midst broken glass,
and police cars.
I only know the boundaries are blurring:
that buck whose antlers flowered on
like found money,
slept in your bed last night,
that doe in mine,
while we stumbled in our nakedness,
running on all fours
through thickets of dark trees
to freeze in the stunning light
of an unexpected clearing.
"Harter's patience, attentiveness and animal eyes allow her to see
through darkness and bring the light she finds to us in her brilliant
new collection." ~ Joan Marsan, reviewing in The Albuquerque Journal
Asleep You Are a River
Asleep, you are a river
face rippling over stones
legs drifting like branches
torso heaving currents.
When you stretch your arms upward
you call tributaries home,
breed clouds from your fingertips.
Even your breathing
is a long journey
to the sea.
Crossing" received honorable mention in the National Poetry
Competition, 1988, sponsored by the Chester H. Jones Foundation, judged
by Diane Wakoski; "Asleep You Are a River" appeared first in The Christian Science Monitor and later in American Nature Writing 1998. I am grateful to the judge and editors. Note:
The sample pages above do not accurately represent the actual page
design and typography of this edition.
|This page first posted 23 September 2003 and
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