Friday, March 19, 2010

The Name of a Fish by Faith Shearin

Don't you just love this title? And the smooth summery cool it brings along. As well as a quiet blue hope for tomorrow. I didn't know I was looking for this poem before I found it.

The Name of a Fish

If winter is a house then summer is a window
in the bedroom of that house. Sorrow is a river
behind the house and happiness is the name

of a fish who swims downstream. The unborn child
who plays in the fragrant garden is named Mavis:
her red hair is made of future and her sleek feet

are wet with dreams. The cat who naps
in the bedroom has his paws in the sun of summer
and his tail in the moonlight of change. You and I

spend years walking up and down the dusty stairs
of the house. Sometimes we stand in the bedroom
and the cat walks towards us like a message.

Sometimes we pick dandelions from the garden
and watch the white heads blow open
in our hands. We are learning to fish in the river

of sorrow; we are undressing for a swim.

by Faith Shearin
from "The Owl Question", 2002


How well caught the image of the cat walking "towards us like a message". The silent dignity of their charachter transferred to you in a flash.
Then there is an underpinning of water throughout the poem, making it flowing, cool and hydrating while at the same time it is carrying a soothing and reassuring note - and just a hint of melancholy.

Then again, it is the whole of the poem rather than its parts which makes the impression, wouldn't you say?


Patrick said...

A friend sent me this poem yesterday. I accidentally deleted her email and lot the poem. Thank you for posting it again. I look forward to following your blog.

Lyle Daggett said...

Enjoyed reading this. I also was struck in particular by the image of the cat that "walks towards us like a message."

I got curious and Googled, and found a webpage for Faith Shearin, here. It features audio of Garrison Keillor reading "The Name of a Fish" and another of her poems, also has a photo of her, and information about a more recent book of hers.

Thanks for posting this.

Thekla said...

Thank you both for this.

I hadn't come around yet to search for this poet on the web, so thank you Lyle for the link to her homepage.

It's interesting to see the way some poems hit something of a core with us humans, like I see this poem does. While reading it for the first thime, straight away I had a home feeling. It seems like this is something we seek.

I just realized: There's not much I love more than discovering a new (to me) poet.

Have a lovely Sunday!