National Poetry Month: Writing Wild, Day 11

The Wyoming landscape is as utterly unknown to me as it was to Gretel Ehrlich when she first arrived there in 1976. Grieving the death of her lover, Ehrlich immersed herself in the work of sheep herding, “literally working through her loss.” (Aalto, p. 118) Her book of essays, The Solace of Open Spaces, grew out of letters she wrote to a friend during a time when she discovered that “loss was a kind of fullness.” Described by Annie Dillard as “Wyoming’s…Whitman,” Ehrlich’s prose captures the beauty of this harsh landscape.

Today’s poems are a series of haiku found in the first chapter of The Solace of Open Spaces. Any words I added are italicized.

Wyoming is…A geography of possibility:

Tumbled and twisted
startled out of a deep sleep
thrown into pure light

Sheep drift, surge, spill like 
snowdrifts or clouds billowing
across open space

Wind, meticulous
gardener: raising dust,
pruning sage

Sandhill cranes gather
with delicate legwork, slice
through stilled water

At night, by moonlight
land is whittled to slivers:
ridge, river, range

Previous Writing Wild posts:

Day 1: Dorothy Wordsworth
Day 2: Susan Fenimore Cooper
Day 3: Gene Stratton-Porter
Day 4: Mary Austin
Day 5: Vita Sackville-West
Day 6: Nan Shepherd
Day 7: Rachel Carson
Day 8: Mary Oliver
Day 9: Carolyn Merchant
Day 10: Annie Dillard

21 thoughts on “National Poetry Month: Writing Wild, Day 11

  1. Oh, my goodness, Catherine. What is it about loss that makes writing so sharp and beautiful? You know I love found haiku…and these are stunning. Your project is so rich this year. Thank you for sharing it with us.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I am learning so much through your posts. The authors, poetry forms, and the messages from nature you share every day. My Wyoming knowledge comes pictures and writers’ words. I imagine it as untamed, and wild. Thank you for sharing Erlich’s in haiku. A perfect choice.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. This is one of my favorite nature books to share with students. I’ve spent a lot of time with them in Wyoming, an easy drive from Colorado & there are so many wonderful spaces to camp or be. I laughed with “Wind, meticulous/gardener: raising dust,/pruning sage”, Catherine. Yes, so windy & we used small pieces of sage to start fires that smell good! I’m going to have to get your book. This is a beautiful month of poems.

    Liked by 1 person

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