morning meditation

by ingrid wendt

Tiny as an infant’s fist, a yellow-bellied Banana
            Quit is flitting all over this 
                        simultaneously blooming and 

fruit-bearing palm, right next to
            my rooftop terrace: first one
                        I’ve seen in the two whole blessed

months I’ve been here.  Too fast 
            for me to snap 
                        a photo, it lands 

on a frond, looks around, 
            is off again. 
                        Just like my mind.

Meanwhile the Great-Tailed Grackle lords it
            over the jungle from whatever high peak 
                        he’s found. 

            the Mockingbird pours out its whole long
                        repertoire to the deaf, rising sun.

Twelve years after her death I put it together, what
            I have known, all along, this morning remembering
                         (I saw a little birdie go hop, hop, hop)

one more song 
            my mother taught me
                        (Kommt ein Vogel geflogen)
before things got tough between us.
             (Now the sun is in the West, and the birds
                        have found their nest. 	

Twelve years.  
            “We must say our prayers,” they say,” “thank our
                        Father for this day.”)

Three songs, 
            three birds.  My mother’s lap.
                        And God.

a valentine for akumal

by ingrid wendt

Verde, que te quiero verde
— Federico García Lorca

Oh, how I love your ever-green jungle, everything blooming
Or bearing or ready to be born, sometimes all three at once
On the same delirious plants: your coconut palms, for instance,
Under ever-sashaying fronds, five or six clusters of fruits

And flowers in all stages of production, year-round. How much
I learn from them. And from your birds. I love their constant mating
Ballets. How do they keep at it all day? Every day? Waiting
For them to cease and desist would be like waiting for the sun

To eclipse the moon. Your cocoa brown doves do it
On the one bare branch in all that berry-filled tree next to my
Balcony, shamelessly. Oh, so much fertility! My eyes
Have died and gone to Heaven, and that’s not even to begin

Naming what’s in your Eden under the sea. Look, Valentine,
See? I’m blossoming, I’m bearing, even as I speak. Be mine.

statement of place: ingrid wendt

Born in Aurora, Illinois, of a father born and raised in Valparaiso, Chile (into a German-speaking household) and a mother born and raised on a fruit farm in southwest Michigan (into a German–speaking household), I moved to Eugene, Oregon, more than forty years ago, to pursue my master of fine arts, not speaking a word of German (though I do possess school-learned, conversational Spanish). I have lived here ever since. (And have, by now, acquired conversational German, as well.)

With the surname Wendt, meaning “nomad, wanderer,” I fully expected, from earliest childhood, to do what my parents had done; my destiny, like theirs, was to some day make my life somewhere else. Two of the main themes, then, that weave throughout all of my work are my search for the meaning of home and the clash between our human need for roots and our American sense of “manifest destiny,” with all of its noble as well as ugly manifestations. This theme first appears, though in its infancy, in my first book of poems, Moving the House (chosen for BOA Editions by William Stafford, 1980), its title intended to work both as an understated metaphor for our “American condition” as well as a reference to an actual event: my husband’s and my buying from MacDonald’s Hamburgers, in 1972, an old bungalow scheduled for demolition, and moving it to a vacant lot halfway across Eugene.

Another main theme in my work—the result of values instilled in my early years in the Midwest, which matured, as I matured into adulthood, in Oregon, as well as during considerable travel over the years, including brief periods of living and teaching, as a visiting writer, in other states in the American West as well as in Europe—is of the countless ways our lives here at home connect to a larger, global, infinitely fragile, human community. My next four books—Singing the Mozart Requiem (Brietenbush Books, Winner of the 1987 Oregon Book Award), The Angle of Sharpest Ascending (Word Press, winner of the 2003 Yellowglen Award), Surgeonfish (WordTech Editions, winner of the 2004 Editions Prize), and Evensong (Truman State University Press, 2011, nominated for the Pulitzer Prize)—each contain poems set in Oregon, as well as other states in the American West and/or in Europe.

There is yet one other way I have, for many years, related to the place I live and the places I have visited: as an observer of the delicate environmental balance that exists, wherever I am, and of the ways in which it is threatened.

Not all of my work of “place,” however, carries these overarching themes. As in some of the poems I submit today, I often find myself, when living or visiting places new to me, responding in a wholly subjective way to what I find there, be it glorious or despicable or something in between.