On the Feedy Sea of Poetry: From the Sprawl of Les Murray to Deathlessness and Inner Violence in “Deciduous” by Tess Barry from issue 299.2

Obsessed with the magic of words—their essence and their sound—I fell in love with the word de cid u ous when it fortuitously crossed my path. I embedded it like a seed. I imagined it as a poem. Its very sound parallels its meaning: a falling off, a shedding that also implies a continuing, a renewal – dying yet deathless.

I love the thought of deciduous parts of trees, of shrubs, of insects. I live in the Eastern United States where we have full seasons (or did before climate change). With luck, our trees turn brilliant shades of colors in autumn. Autumn brings shedding of leaves, suggests an in-between essence. As leaves begin to turn and fall, the earth feels as though a portal has been opened between this world and the next, between life and death. Autumn is a time of mystery.

Blog Photo Tess Barry blog

“Migratory,” a poem by Les Murray, inspired “Deciduous.” A poet whom I adore, Murray writes penetratingly complex poems that are singular, forceful. Echoing the natural world, Murray’s poems are grounded yet otherworldly─pushing deeper into mystery by peeling back the layers to reveal inner essence. A line from “Migratory” reads: ”I am the right feeling on washed shine” (From: Learning Human: New Selected Poems/ ”Migratory”). Murray leaves me with a strange but right feeling, a clarity rendered violently, as though I’d been struck in the head. Continue reading