Poetry of Kansas Here & Now, There & Then

Posts tagged ‘Elizabeth Schultz’

29. To the Stars Through Difficulty: Elizabeth Schultz

There aren’t enough words to name all of my ancestors:

to give homage to the sea-farers, Lucy and Howard;
to acknowledge my teachers, Emily, Walt, and Herman;
to exalt my grandmothers, Silence, Patience, and Mercy;
to honor my siblings: Sister Cat, Brother Badger, as well
as my lizard and spider relations, not so far removed;
to include bushy-headed oaks stretching out their arms;
to praise the great, great, ever-so-great paramecium
and prokaryotes, emerging, procrastinating, exploring,

and to contemplate, above all, the dazzling dust of stars.

– Elizabeth Schultz

16. How To Read A Winter Field

Summer’s illuminated manuscript is gone.

Nothing green or luxuriant remains.

This field of snow is a severe parchment.

A few autumn grasses penetrate its crust.

Collaborating with the wind, thin stalks

and seed heads scratch back and forth.

This field of snow reveals some basics.

On its plain whiteness, rabbits, mice, coyotes

inscribe histories of frenzied survival.

Throughout the winter they track this field

with skittish penmanship. Their deaths,

blotting it red, are out in the open.

But beneath the snow, voles and weasels

knot into warmth, where no fundamentalist tract

in white and black spellsl out their dreams.

– Elizabeth Schultz

Having retired from the University of Kansas in 2001, Elizabeth Schultz now balances scholarship on Herman Melville and on the environment with writing essays and poems about the people and places she loves. She has published two critical works on Melville, two collections of poetry, one book of short stories, and published her scholarship and poetry widely.

3. Divining the Birds

1

During December’s last days,
as mild as May, it rained robins.
They fell from the sky in drops,
clustered in our cedars,
then plopped on the ground.

They paused in mid-migration,
feasting on residual mulberries.
Worms had long since turned
underground. The birds stormed
around us, shitting, starving.

2.
By the river, it was reported
a red-tail hawk attacked a great blue,
its talons snagged the heron’s back.
Lingering on late in the season,
the water bird stood meditatively

in the shoals when the hawk,
a stealth bomber, exploded among
its feathers. But in a last arabesque,
the heron swiveled its neck to stab
her enemy’s speckled breast.

3.
At dusk, a million blackbirds flow east,
unfurling against a sky, mauve and gold.
No one bird puts a period to this endless
streaming. Tattered wakes of geese
merge into darkness.

Organs steam along the highways.
Bones are spaced along the shoulders.
Soothsayers abound, divining the remains
on earth’s altars. None dares predict
how much longer hummingbirds
can negotiate the snow.

– Elizabeth Schultz

Having retired from the University of Kansas in 2001, Elizabeth Schultz now balances scholarship on Herman Melville and on the environment with writing essays and poems about the people and places she loves. She has published two critical works on Melville, two collections of poetry, one book of short stories, and published her scholarship and poetry widely.

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