Poetry Monday- A little poem by Terry Tempest Williams

And today: A poet who makes so much sense to me.  It makes sense that she would make sense to me.  Terry Tempest Williams is a true-blue Utah poet.  Born Mormon, raised in Utah, a passionate voice for the desert and for wilderness.  In her writing, which often jumps back and forth across the prose/poetry line, she writes about ecology, feminism, politics, Mormon culture, animals, and conservationism.  Her most famous work is her memoir, Refuge: An Unnatural History of Family and Place, in which she explores her mother’s cancer (an epidemic in her family, possibly related to the nuclear testing near their homes in the 1950s and 60s) and the flooding of the Bear River Migratory Bird Refuge.

I love this quote from her: “So here is my question: what might a different kind of power look like, feel like, and can power be redistributed equitably even beyond our own species?”   This short untitled poem is from a page in her book Finding Beauty in a Broken World, and it is a poetic description of the way speciesism operates in our societal power dynamics:

Clay-colored monks

dressed in discreet robes of fur

stand as sentinels

outside their burrows, watching.

watching as their communities

disappear, one by one,

their hands raised up

in prayer.


4 responses to “Poetry Monday- A little poem by Terry Tempest Williams

  1. Karmen July 11, 2011 at 9:50 am

    Terry Tempest Williams is one of my earth-voice heroes along with Edward Abbey and Aldo Leopold. If we would all speak up, as she does, what a chorus we would make!

  2. mfranti July 11, 2011 at 10:02 am

    Karmen, If I had Kingsolver, TTW, and Abbey’s talent, I would speak up. Until then, I’ll just continue to read their writings, be inspired by them, and then swim in my thoughts and tongue-tiedness until someone says something stupid.

    I can’t put together two sentences on paper unless I’m responding to something that pisses me off.
    That’s why grad school isn’t an option for me. 🙂

  3. Kate July 11, 2011 at 3:56 pm

    This is only tangentially related to power-shifting, but I love this quote: “You want sanity, democracy, community, an intact Earth? We can’t get there obeying Constitutional theory and law crafted by slave masters, imperialists, corporate masters, and Nature destroyers. We can’t get there kneeling before robed lawyers stockpiling class plunder precedent up their venerable sleeves. So isn’t disobedience the challenge of our age? Principled, inventive, escalating disobedience to liberate our souls, to transfigure our work as humans on this Earth.” -Richard Grossman, Human Rights Activist, Author

  4. Karmen July 13, 2011 at 6:09 am

    TTW just wants us to speak from our hearts, or “act” as Grossman says. Our chorus doesn’t have to be all in tune (I hope for my sake).

    This particular poem is, I think a great example of Williams’ poetry — spare and descriptive, yet able to pull a deep emotional response from the reader. Her writing in general does so, even those essays she read in congressional hearings, etc. as she spoke on behalf of cancer victims, the logging of trees used for cancer drugs, and the wilderness.

    Thank you, Missy, for posting this poem.

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