Friday Apr 19

kumin.jpg Maxine Kumin's 17th poetry collection, forthcoming in the spring of 2010, is Where I Live: New and Selected Poems 1990-2010. Her awards include the Pulitzer and Ruth Lilly Poetry Prizes, the Poets’ Prize, and the Harvard Arts and Robert Frost Medals. A former US poet laureate, she and her husband live on a farm in New Hampshire. “Lore” first appeared in The Great River Review, and “The Winking Vulva” first appeared in The Alaska Quarterly Review.  
In an illustrated text
on trees I learn
that the average blue jay collects
more than
four thousand acorns
over the autumn in its
expanding esophogeal chamber
but forgets
the locus of three
out of four, a figure
that saddens me.
Still, it accounts for
the profusion
of red oak seedlings strewn
along the shady place where
the pasture ends
and the forest begins.
Who knew the blue jay’s beak
could open wide
enough to take in
the winter’s supplies four
at a peck?
Still, this falls short
of the chipmunk’s stash
thanks to its pouch--
four in each cheek
and one in the mouth.
But what Ph.D. candidate
in ornithology kept track
of acorns all fall
and then lay in wait
winter-long for the bird to recall
one out of four of its store
to crack open and eat?
The Winking Vulva
When the old broodmare came down with Cushings, an end-
of-life disease, they took in a friend’s
retired gelding, thinking to have a companion
for their own midlife gelding when
the time came to put her down. The mare sprang
into action, newly young,
squatting, crooking and lifting her tail,
squirting urine and winking her vulva, all
classic signs of estrus. Although
bewildered, the newcomer seemed to enjoy
her slavish attention. What old boy
wouldn’t? But when in the sweltering
heat her heat persisted, they worried: something
endocrine amiss, an ovarian tumor?
Consulted, the vet only laughed, good for her!
At last the inviting vulva gave
up its vigorous winking, the two big guys
lowered their heads side by side to graze.
Between them, regally in charge, the mare
till yellow leaves do hang and bid no more.