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Friday, August 21, 2009

Poem for a Summer's Night: The Two-Headed Calf

I'm not sure that I've ever put a poem on this blog before but this little verse has been on my mind these recent hot summer nights. It's one of my favorites, a gift by chance when listening to the radio one day. It sounded much longer when read aloud.

The poet is Laura Gilpin, who is no longer with us. She was a nurse and an advocate for humanizing hospital care for the terminally ill and she wrote a lot about animals, people, life and death in a way that seems very authentic to me.

So here you have one of my favorite poems, an ode to a summer's night and all its infinite possibilities and tragedies, depending on how you look at things:

The Two-Headed Calf

Tomorrow when the farm boys find this
freak of nature, they will wrap his body
in newspaper and carry him to the museum.

But tonight he is alive and in the north
field with his mother. It is a perfect
summer evening: the moon rising over
the orchard, the wind in the grass.
And as he stares into the sky, there
are twice as many stars as usual.

--Laura Gilpin
from her anthology The Hocus Pocus of the Universe


Lerrin said...

I have stood in such pastures on those perfect summer evenings. It is now one of my favorite poems, too.

Fran Jurga said...

Thanks! That's exactly why I put it there, I knew people would recognize something there, even in so few words. Pass it on.

Lerrin said...

To add to the above thought- the consideration of the newborn's perspective, even though his lifetime will be so short, is achingly touching.
Indeed, this has been passed on. Thanks very much, Fran, for this- this poem is appreciated, and you are, too!