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Angela Patten – Feeding The Wild Rabbit

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Live Encounters Poetry & Writing April 2021

Angela Patten is author of three poetry collections, In Praise of Usefulness (Wind Ridge Books), Reliquaries and Still Listening, both from Salmon Poetry, Ireland, and a prose memoir, High Tea at a Low Table: Stories From An Irish Childhood (Wind Ridge Books). Her work has appeared in literary journals and anthologies, including Poetry Ireland Review, Nimrod International Journal, Crosswinds Poetry Journal, Green Mountains Review, and Birchsong: Poetry Centered in Vermont. In 2016 she received a National Poetry Prize from the Cape Cod Cultural Center for a single poem. She has presented readings at home and abroad, including The Limerick Writers’ Centre, Dingle Bookshop, County Kerry, Word Portland, Maine, The Frost Place, New Hampshire, and at various locations around Vermont. Born and raised in Dublin, Ireland, Angela now lives in Burlington, Vermont. She is a Senior Lecturer in the University of Vermont English Department.

Feeding The Wild Rabbit

“We carry our homes within us which enables us to fly.”
John Cage

What should I feed the wild rabbit
that has been leaving its scat
in the snow under the birdfeeder?
I saw it sitting still as a garden statue
when I arrived home yesterday at dusk.

Last week the rechargeable bulb
of the amaryllis, banished to a shelf
in the back of the garage,
sprang to life and threw out first
one green shoot and then another.

Do animals dream of the coming light
in their lairs beneath the snow?
I dream constantly of homelessness.
Something is preventing me
from entering those places I once lived,
all doors locked against me.

Once there was a room whose only light
came from a glowing fire where all
the crisscrossed bones of my ancestors
burned like kindling and their strange
elongated shadows leaped the walls.

For two nights now I have dreamed
of skating barefoot on a river
covered with a skiff of snow.
On either side the trees and bushes
look like lavish wedding gowns
adorned with lace. My feet glide
effortlessly over the ice. No fear
of falling, no searching for
safe harbor. Just this flying.

Signs of Bad Weather

after reading an interview with my grandfather,
oBill Goggins,of Tullaghanoge, County Meath, Ireland,
conducted by his twelve-year-old daughter Ann
for a national oral history project in 1938.

When the sky is red in the morning
When the sky is yellow at sunset
When the sun sets down in a bed of clouds
When the sun is greenish
When the seabirds come inland
When the hills are near
When the cows lie down in the field
When swallows fly low
When the crickets cry loudly
When the frogs turn black
When the midges are wicked in the evening
When the dog eats grass
When curlews cry
When the cats turn their backs to the fire

Then it is time to turn inward and ask ourselves
The questions we have placed on the long finger—
Why is a furrow like a backbone?
Why does the warm air seem kind?
Why does lavender keep moths away?
What would it be like to be invisible, like an angel?
What is given and what must be earned?

© Angela Patten