Thursday, October 22, 2020

October 2020

In the fall of 1803, American Naturalist John James Audubon wondered whether migrating birds returned to the same place each year. So he tied a string around the leg of a bird before it flew south. The following spring, Audubon saw the bird had indeed come back.

A poem I wrote for Bridget's poetry group. Thank you, Linda, for your comments!

October 2020
by Tabatha Yeatts

Sweeping long hair
into a dustpan after a haircut,
I notice I'm wearing a blue plastic ring
on my right hand,
banded like a migratory bird.

Where did it come from, this tag?
What did it mark before?
My movements are far less mysterious
than this band.

I think of my daughter's preschool teacher
who migrated here from Colombia, and her hand,
which she would raise above her head as she said,
"I am holding you here"
to students needing to wait their turn.

October is holding me here,
accompanied by the gourds
assembled on my stoop
like a family sitting for a portrait,

and the bright maple leaves
strewn around my mailbox
that I attempt to turn into a bouquet,

and the scarecrow
in my neighbor's yard
who makes me do a double-take again.

Fixed in place,
I take off the band.

There's a hint of chill outside.
I settle deeper, forget flight.


This poem was inspired by a true incident. I wasn't sure how this ended up on my hand:
I got jalapeno/habanero juice in my eye while I was making lunch, so it probably made its way onto my finger then (when I couldn't see).

Tracking Birds' Migration Paths Online,
Animal Migrations Track with Wikipedia Searches, Scientific American

Want to send a poem and receive a poem? Join the one-time Holiday Poem Swap! We also send gifts with the poems. (It's been known as the Winter Poem Swap, but it's summer in Australia.) Please email me (tabatha (at) tabathayeatts (dot) com) if you want in or have questions.
Jama's Alphabet Soup has the Poetry Friday round-up. Thanks, Jama!


Kimberly Hutmacher said...

Such a lovely and mysterious poem, Tabatha. October is holding me here, too. This autumn season and all of its gifts has been a comfort to my soul.

Linda B said...

I love the added details, Tabatha, and have always loved that part about the teacher, such a thoughtful thing for her students, now your use of it rather expands the notion doesn't it? Wishing we could all have someone "holding us here". Well done! I also love your Audubon story.

Bridget Magee said...

I love that this blue band appeared on your finger unnoticed yet you notice so much around you as is illustrated in the many rich details of your poem:
"and the scarecrow
in my neighbor's yard
who makes me do a double-take again."
Maybe the blue band appearing while you were temporarily blinded by a stinging substance is a metaphor for politics these days? Hee-hee. That might be a stretch, but your poetic chops are not. Many thanks for sharing this poem and being a part of PAWC group, Tabatha! (Linda is a great crit partner.) I'm glad you are held here sharing your awesomeness. :)

Ruth said...

I bet that bird was irritated by the string all season! I hope Audubon took it off when the poor creature got back. I love your poem!

Irene Latham said...

October is holding you... sigh. I"m sorry you got blinded by hot sauce! But I do love the mystery of the blue ring, and how it found its way into this poem. Yay for the poem swap too! What a gift you are. xo

jama said...

Love your poem, and the backstory about the mysterious blue band. I've always found it fascinating how migrating birds return to the same places each year. Your words, "October is holding me here" -- so beautiful and poignant.

Ruth said...

Tabatha, I just listened to today's BirdNote podcast, and it told the same Audubon story!

Margaret Simon said...

I love how this happenstance made you think of Audubon and banded birds. And it all made it into a fascinating, evocative poem. With one of my students, we read "A Nest for Celeste." This is a beautiful children's book about a mouse who helps out Joseph, Audubon's assistant.

Jone said...

I love the band to a banded bird, that October is holding you and the chill is coming. The chill has arrived in Portland.

michelle kogan said...

I like the parallel you create with migratory birds and your daughter's teacher "who migrates–nice sprinkling of details as the poem weaves on. I'd like October me a bit longer, thanks Tabatha!

Heidi Mordhorst said...

This has the feel of a poem that wrote itself, Tabatha--one image pouring seamlessly into the next for a whole that is, yes, mysteriously concrete. If it was harder than it looks, I send gratitude for the effort. I hope all are well.

Karen Edmisten said...

I love the magical mystery of this band and the beautiful poem it inspired.
"October is holding me here." Sigh. Lovely.

Fran Haley said...

Fascinating, the mystery of the blue band. The themes of migration and "holding" are so powerful and so beautifully woven here - LOVE that ending image of settling deeper and forgetting flight - so well-done!

Michelle Heidenrich Barnes said...

That's quite a mystery! It made for a lovely poem, though. I love the reference to your daughter's preschool teacher and the stanza that begins "October is holding me here". It was a comfort holding your mindful poem in my imagination.

jan godown annino said...

Hope that sauce eye-squirt never occurs again. But only a creative mind would get such a cool poem from it. You are a wonder, dear Tabatha :) xo jan/bookseedstudio