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Welcome to our living archive, documenting and drawing from diverse wisdoms in regards to today's environmental challenges. Hope you have a nice stay!

Metronome (Deborah Kennedy)

Metronome (Deborah Kennedy)

Metronome                                                               

 

Metronome in my chest

measures the minutes

measures the seconds

more than half gone now.

 

This pump, a crimson miracle

beating quietly

for fifty-five years.

 

My father’s heart rebelled

this doubled year.

In the darkness

the pressure of blood beats

 

against my eardrums.

My eyes see the glow

of waiting machines.

Outside, a mockingbird sings

 

under a sliver of moon.

The old moon

in the new moon’s arms

 

thin arc of ardent light

embraces her faint

round face.

 

The mockingbird’s razor notes

pierce my empty yard.

His song reaches

 

for reckless registers,

rips through antic rhythms.

 

The wind surges through

trees etched against the

indigo sky. This bird’s heart

 

beats so fast, my seconds

are as long as light-years.

 

 

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Deborah's original art work for this piece: 

 

Commentary

Metronome: Midnight Promises                  

         When I was 55, I would sometimes lie in bed wondering whether I would see 56 without suffering a violent encounter with heart disease like my father and older sister. It was a very long year, and I often listened to the nighttime songs of the mockingbirds in my yard while worry weighed on my chest. Mockingbirds, as their name implies, imitate the calls of many other birds.  Today, they even imitate car alarms and ringing telephones. Males can learn up to 200 songs and their vocal gymnastics, intended to assert their territorial claims and attract females, are vibrant and extravagant. As the night unraveled, the mockingbird’s proud repertoire of songs truly gave me heart.           

            Mockingbirds are an assertive, adaptive species. They have learned to live in urban and suburban environments and are fortunately a species of least concern to conservationists. However, the mockingbirds dazzling repertoire of calls are increasingly replaced by the ragged caws of crows across the nation, and also in my backyard. As human activities have caused the decline of many bird species, crows’ numbers rapidly increase. Crows are adaptive, omnivorous, and aggressive—all characteristics that help them to multiply in areas heavily affected by humans. However, I hope others will notice the missing midnight performances of mockingbirds in their backyards.           

            The illustration is of a mockingbird and a human heart, with a suggestion of the old saying, “the old moon in the new moon’s arms.” The saying has fallen into disuse as fewer people moon-gaze. This delightful metaphor describes a visual phenomenon that occurs when the moon first appears as a crescent. The tiny crescent is often brilliantly lit by the sun, while the normally dark face of the moon picks up a soft “ashen glow” from light reflected back from Earth called earthshine. The arms of the young crescent moon appear to embrace the dimly glowing old moon. Leonardo da Vinci described earthshine 500 years ago, speculating that it was due to light reflecting off the oceans. Researchers have found that it is most intense in April and May because earthshine depends on the amount of cloud cover. For me, this is one of the most beautiful states of the moon, and I recommend looking for it in the spring months.          

            In the past, many people and cultures looked to nature for inspiration and for models and measures of human behavior. People often worshipped the moon and sun as deities. Goddesses and gods were often hybrids of human and animal characteristics, and children’s play regularly imitated animal sounds and behaviors. Today, we seem to look more to our own technological creations for inspiration. For example, movies and children’s cartoons are more likely to feature robots than roadrunners or other animals. Increasingly, children play with toy machines and experience nature remotely, on television. Fortunately, nature, although reduced, still exists as a powerful source of inspiration and meaning-making for us all. 

 

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From the 2017 book, Nature Speaks"Poetry and art to heal ourselves and the Earth."
Nature Speaks is the: 
2017 Silver Nautilus Award, Winner - Poetry
2017 Eric Hoffer Book Award, Winner - Poetry
2017 Eric Hoffer Grand Prize - Short List
Art also by Deborah. 
Learn more about Deborah's new, award winning, Nature Speakshere
 

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 Artist, educator, writer, lecturer  Deborah Kennedy ’s work has been presented in the United States and Europe. Learn more by visiting her  website . 

Artist, educator, writer, lecturer Deborah Kennedy’s work has been presented in the United States and Europe. Learn more by visiting her website

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