Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Tracie Vaughn Zimmer - Cousins of Clouds

Cousins of Clouds
by
Tracie Vaughn Zimmer

Long, long ago,
before man tamed words on the page
and when elephants
were great kings of the sky,
ruling the storms,
inking out the sun,
stampeding across the stars,
there was a great counselor and prophet
who traveled to the most remote mountain villages
to share all he knew.
As word spread of the master’s visit,
many gathered under the arms
of an ancient elm,
and even a great flock of
elephants swooped in with
the first ribbons of dawn
to perch in the branches and listen.
But a quarrel erupted
among the elephants
over who had the best view,
causing the limbs of the tree
to fracture and fall,
crushing all but the prophet himself.
Furious,
the prophet invoked a dreadful curse,
shriveling the elephants’ prized wings
into pitiful ears,
chaining the elephant
to gravity and man’s will
for all eternity.
To this very day
you can see the poor elephants
flapping their ears,
dreaming of flight,
but now only
cousins of clouds.

© Tracie Vaughn Zimmer. All rights reserved.
From the upcoming collection Cousins of Clouds
illustrated by Megan Halsey and Sean Addy
Clarion, February 2011

Tracie Vaughn Zimmer is a poet, novelist, teacher, and reading specialist for whom, I read, chocolate is a major food group. I think we must be related! And since today is her birthday, let me lead the chorus of song for my new-found relative... and wish her a happy birthday full of chocolate cake!

I love the way Tracie's poetry creates such rich imagery and how she finds small but perfect details to tell a bigger story than seems possible in the amount of words she uses. The poems in her collection Steady Hands, where I first "met" her, are great examples of different ways to approach the same broad subject - jobs - as well as having those pitch perfect details... and I must admit that I now can't wait until Cousins of Clouds is out and about. Until then, though, I'm simply so excited to have Tracie Vaughn Zimmer here on 30 Poets/30 Days. (And happy birthday!)

Yesterday Brod Bagert gave life to Personification. Tomorrow... Smaller Than I Thought by Heidi Mordhorst! For more on 30 Poets/30 Days and ways to follow along, please click here.

7 comments:

Carol Grannick said...

I love Tracie's work, too. Her imagery evokes such emotion, whether about elephants or a girl's emotions who moves away from home. Thanks for posting this exquisite poem, Greg - and thanks for writing it, Tracie!

tanita davis said...

That is the most scenic, inventive and surreal poem -- it sounded so sonorous and serious that it really pulls off the nonsense well. Lovely!

laurasalas said...

I love poems that transport me, and this one does so beautifully. I mean, really:

a great flock of
elephants swooped in with
the first ribbons of dawn

Who writes stuff like that?! Tracie does, and to great effect. I can't wait until Cousins of Clouds comes out!

Cathy C. Hall said...

Loved this poem! But, really, how can you not love elephant poems?!

Lee Wind said...

This one has stayed with me for hours now. I keep thinking about how it's mythic, in the best way, by making me see an alternate history - and it seems so possible! It's exactly the kind of thing I loved to do as a kid (come up with implausible reasons for things) and it really put me in that wonderful sweet spot of imagination again.
Thanks to Tracie for sharing - and Greg for hosting such an amazing month of poetry!
Namaste,
Lee

traciezimmer said...

THANKS so much Greg for including me this year! Such an honor!

Happy Poetry Month!

Jane Heitman Healy said...

This IS mythical, beautiful, and so imaginative! This poem would match well with Kipling's "Just So Stories." It also demonstrates the importance of observation.