Happy Birthday, Diane Wakowski

Diane_WakoskiOn August 3, 1937, Diane Wakoski was born in Whittier, California.

She received a bachelor’s degree in English from the University of California at Berkeley, where she studied with Thom Gunn, Josephine Miles, and Tom Parkinson.

She has published more than forty collections of poems, including the four books that constitute her series “The Archaeology of Movies and Books”Argonaut Rose (1998), The Emerald City of Las Vegas (1995), Jason the Sailor (1993), and Medea the Sorceress (1991) all published by Black Sparrow Press;Emerald Ice: Selected Poems 1962-1987 (1988), which won the Poetry Society of America’s William Carlos Williams Award; and The Collected Greed, Parts 1-13 (1984). She has also published four books of essays: Toward a New Poetry (1979), Variations on a Theme(1976), Creating a Personal Mythology (1975), and Form Is an Extension of Content (1972).

Snowy Owl Goddess
by Diane Wakoski

Loudell, in a loose cotton dress
the color of delphiniums,
her hair, owl-feathered and quiet
as her naked toes in their pale sandals
is a friend from this harvest part
of our lives,
a Minerva woman
of herbs and salsas, hellebore, trumpet vines
and heirloom tomatoes. She glides
among us all,
as if we too might be
live plants.

Almost in a trance from the heady
August evening, and perhaps from the corner
of my indolent eye, more absorbing the murmur
than watching, I registered
this Snowy Owl of a woman
as she stripped an olive through her raptor’s mouth,
then delicately flung the pit
into the narrow garden verge next
to her deck chair.

Usually fastidious as a pharmacist
weighing crystals,
she surprised me in this seeming-act
of littering, until I realized “oh, the pit might take root,
grow!” It was her planter’s instinct/
give every seed a place.

Sipping her chardonnay and, with one hand cracking
some pistachios to neatly deposit
their shells in a bowl with pits from olives
the rest of us had eaten,
she reminds me that even
with abundance
there need not be waste.

Every day the image, planted in the hull of
twilight conversation, visits me: A Snowy Owl
suddenly spreading her 10-foot wingspan
to cover this sacred earth,
its arcing motion, her arm unfolding into air
with the olive pit
bowling earthward.

Diane Wakoski


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