This episode features poems by three Northeast Ohio-based writers. Each poem captures a single fleeting moment, a single encounter with nature, that somehow encapsulates an eternity. “Crow Tongue” by Ray McNiece, “Cicadas” by Cathy Barber, and “Sunbeams” by Marion Boyer are heard alongside an anonymous dance Bel fiore dança (or, lovely dance in Italian) that survives in a manuscript from around 1400. The swirling melody and the raw sounds of the medieval fiddle, a soft reed instrument called a douçaine, and bray harp collectively echo the sense of timelessness in each of these poems.
Barber’s “Cicadas” takes the form of a golden shovel, in which the author borrows the words of another poet as the end word of each line.
a golden shovel by Cathy Barber after Matsuo Basho as translated by William George Aston
Back from a night out, on the
walk from garage to house, we’re surrounded by the cry
of insects punching above their weight, of
tiny bodies expanding and contracting, the
unmistakable sound of cicada after cicada
out-louding each other. It gives
us pause, that total permeation, and we make no
movement for a minute, just listen as they sign-
al on the air, “I am here,” hope that
a mate answers their call and life goes on. Presently,
we walk again, mount the steps to the house. It
suddenly feels a big world and we small creatures in it, hoping we will
make our own tremendous noise before we die.