Bird Bath

by Elizabeth Reninger


Original Language English

only this
matters: this ecstatic
baptism

this standing on stick-
thin legs where the singing
creek pools at the lip
of the waterfall

only this
ruby-feathered
chest diving to meet
its reflection

this beak piercing
again and again that quivering
surface, these wings half-
unfolding, a ruffle

of joy guiding rivers
of light a tumble
of droplets dressed
in rainbows along your hidden
spine

shattering all
decorum beneath
blue branches in quiet

assent. . .

-- from And Now the Story Lives Inside You, by Elizabeth Reninger

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/ Photo by Peter G. Trimming /


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Commentary by Ivan M. Granger

Isn't this a wonderful poem? A distilled moment, a red-breasted bird at a bird bath, its thin legs in the water. It looks down at its own reflection in the surface, plunges, shaking the water through its feathers. Just an instant of life that happens every day, yet through the poet's eyes it suggests so much to us.

...where the singing
creek pools at the lip
of the waterfall


This isn't in a manmade bird bath, but in a small river, with living, flowing water. We are at a small precipice, at the edge of a waterfall, and it is there that we find a stillpoint.

Naturally, we are the robin. We look down into the stillness right at the edge, and see a reflection of ourselves. With a bold, joyful movement, we dive to meet ourselves, merge with ourselves, pierce the surface. In the explosion of the moment, we find life in ourselves, cleansing, baptism, communion.

..these wings half-
unfolding, a ruffle

of joy guiding rivers
of light a tumble
of droplets dressed
in rainbows along your hidden
spine


The poet, being a practitioner of Yoga and Qigong, perhaps intends to suggest the ecstatic rush of Kundalini along the spine. Or perhaps simply it is the glistening light and movement of the moment that comes alive in us.

shattering all
decorum beneath
blue branches in quiet

assent. . .


I think I like these final lines best of all. The "decorum" of the world around us itself is "shattered" by this moment of life. But that reality accepts that disruption, it seems to approve and give its blessing, it offers "quiet assent."

One of those special poems.



Recommended Books: Elizabeth Reninger

And Now the Story Lives Inside You





Bird Bath