Literature 5-5-2008

What Light: This Week’s Poem: Sandra Evans

Read "Bird Identification" by Sandra Evans, the first winning poem from the spring 2008 cycle of What Light, selected by Katrina Vandenberg.


Bird Identification

A bird in the hand
two love birds
are three birds a flock or a murder
or just a pair and the one rejected
a partridge in a pear tree
my father used to hunt partridge in the north woods
of Minnesota but they really weren’t partridge like
the ones you see in engravings or lithographs of those
twelve days in winter they were ruffed grouse and
on occasion my dad would scold my brother and I
for asking When are we going partridge hunting and
we would stop and repeat ruffed grouse turning aside
his rumbled threat but we would wonder
in that little thought bubble we used to share
before my brother hit puberty wasn’t it you
who taught us what to call those birds who
clung to the forest floor a brown-grey blur
of tree trunk and almost dead underbrush
dry pine needles and stones?


Poetry’s been a mainstay of my life for 30 years. It has a quality of faith in that even though I’m not always practicing it– poetry is always there– waiting for me. Reading Li Young Lee’s Winged Seed made me want to let my poetry play inside prose, but I still find the short, succinct and evocative lines of poets like Lee, Berry, Akhmatova, and Tagore give us something that enters not only through our minds and hearts but our whole body and truly inspires me. Music, meaning and meditation—poetry—our blood pulses to it, our chests rise with it.

Biography Sandra Evans is an MFA candidate at Hamline University rapidly closing on thesis. Her writing has appeared in rock, paper, scissors and the Family Housing Fund calendar. She lives in St. Paul with her husband and two kids, a dog and a rat. By day she tries to steal lines from the toddlers in her care.

This week’s poetry and wine pairing: Martin Ray Winery Dry Rose 2007

Our Russian River Valley Rose grapes were harvested and crushed separately, then “cold-soaked” for six hours to concentrate the color and flavors from the skins. The juice (“saigne”) was then drained off and fermented at cool temperatures with Rhone yeasts in stainless steel for 3 months, but received no malolactic fermentation. After fermentation, the wine was racked, cold-settled and then finished in the first screw cap bottle for our Martin Ray brand. This Rose has a vibrant raspberry color and fragrant aromas of tropical peaches, cherry and a hint of violets and vanilla. Fresh, lively flavors of kiwi/strawberry, raspberry and cherry are abundant in this medium-bodied dry wine with excellent acidity and a nice, easy finish. –Martin Ray Winery