Who knows what will happen? Where will we land? How will we spend the winter? Count on an owl to fulfill its destiny. Margaret Noodin’s new collection, “What the Chickadee Knows,” part of the Great Lakes Books Series, is an exquisite bilingual journey of languages and observations “situated between the traditions of the past … and the innovation needed for survival into the future.” As in this slim, strong poem, meditating on the world around and beyond our human doings offers respite, deeper time. Note the movements of snow, cold and wind and the flapping of great wings. We are incidental in their precious stories.
By Margaret Noodin
When it stops snowing in winter and deep cold arrives to crack the
We stop hearing the freezing then listen for the great horned owls
They forgive one another and begin to mate while the world is
Landing on pine branches as snow falls gently in large flakes
Eventually she lays an egg then ignores the world until it breaks
Naomi Shihab Nye is the Young People’s Poet Laureate of the Poetry Foundation in Chicago. Her most recent book is “Everything Comes Next — Collected & New Poems” (Greenwillow Books). Margaret Noodin is the author of “What the Chickadee Knows” (Wayne State University Press, 2020), which contains poems in Anishinaabemowin and English. She is professor of English and American Indian studies at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee.
Illustration by R.O. Blechman