Saturday, May 2, 2009

THE DECLENSION OF 'LOON'


This poem (of sorts) is the result of the intersection of two events – one was a dear friend from the foothills calling to ask me to translate a short phrase into Latin for her so she could paint it on a river rock as a gift for her sister, and the other was hearing a loon out on the lake rather early the following morning. As a result of the first, I had to dust off my old study books. Hui—it’s been a long time! And Latin is very fussy, for a dead language. For the second event, I had to put a rain-jacket on over my nightie (not complete coverage) and head out with my binoculars. The call was so distant and my ear so sleepy, I thought at first it might be a red-bellied woodpecker, but once I stood at the edge of the breakwall, one ear to the trees behind me, and one to the open lake, the call was unmistakably coming from far out on the rain-shrouded water, and unquestionably a loon. The process of hearing and identifying the call kind of reminded me of the Latin declensions I’d recently reviewed for my friend. I’m not exactly sure it qualifies as a poem. Maybe it’s just a wonky Latin exercise made up by a damp, yawning, under-caffeinated birdwatcher…

nom: A loon is calling in the morning rain
gen: A loon’s laughter is tumbling across the quiet lake
dat: I searched for the loon through binoculars
acc: I listened to the loon with rapt attention, longing to be
abl: let in on the joke by the loon but alas—
voc: O loon! What’s so funny; is it my bare white legs shining on the shore?

13 comments:

Lin said...

very clever and interesting morning exercise. my husband took latin in high school too.

Sylvia K said...

How fun! and clever! Love your photo! Have a great weekend!

Cloudia said...

Such a scholarly wonder-head you are!
Aloha

SandyCarlson said...

What a great poem. It captures the immediacy and the wonder of the moment and makes grammar a welcome part of the conversation.

Annie said...

Just completely enchanting from start to finish.

Dee said...

OH I adore it! You have such a way with language!

Rose said...

Whatever it is, I like it. It makes me smile to think of you out with a raincoat and binoculars....and that last line about your bare white legs is priceless.

Quiet Paths said...

I love this! Waiting to be.... so true and so fun.

Shellmo said...

I loved all your loon poem!!

jinksy said...

Declension - now there's a blast from the past, if ever I heard one...Loved you little ditty, and Loons made the perfect subject!
Can I be a Loon-atic?!

Sniffles and Smiles said...

Extraordinary! And so very clever! Love this! Congrats on your POTD! This is terrific! ~Janine

Grace Albaugh said...

Came over from POTD. Being from MN i know that lonely and lovely call. Thanks for sharing it with us.

Elizabeth Bradley said...

Smarty pants, Latin? I am uncertain as to whether or not I've ever heard a loon in person.