April 2 - 2nd entry for National Poetry Month - a note on the prose of Louise Erdrich and her poem Orozco's Christ, as recorded by me
“…When the birds descended, both Indians and whites set up great bonfires and tried driving them into nets. The doves ate the wheat seedlings and the rye and started on the corn. They ate the sprouts of new flowers and the buds of apples and the tough leaves of oak trees and even last uear’s chaff. The doves were plump, and delicious smoked, but one could wring the necks of hundreds or thousands and effect no visible diminishment of their number. The pole-and-mud houses of the mixed-bloods and the bark huts of the blanket Indians were crushed by the weight of the birds. They were roasted, burnt, baked up in pies, stewed, salted down in barrels, or clubbed dead with sticks and left to rot. But the dead only fed the living and each morning when the people woke it was to the scraping and beating of wings, the murmurous susurration, the awful cooing babble, and the sight, to those who still possessed intact windows, of the curious and gentle faces of those creatures.”
This is the second paragraph of Louise Erdrich’s The Plague of Doves, a marvelous and amazing epic storyteller’s story of a novel. I first read her in college and it took me a while to recognize the absolute poetry of her prose, and the ambitious rolling scope of her storytelling which in fact is the storytelling of all our elders, and what wonderful books we might all write if we listened carefully and faithfully as Erdrich, mimicked their tongues.
Go read everything by her. Meanwhile here I go reading her poem Orozco’s Christ from the collection Baptism of Desire, aloud.
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