"art on a wall is an open question"
spoken by an artist friend to Deborah Heiligman, author of Vincent and Theo: the Van Gogh brothers
from Winter Bees & Other Poems of the Cold by Joyce Sidman
& beautifully illustrated by Rick Allen
We are an ancient tribe,
a hardy scrum.
Born with eyelash legs
and tinsel wings,
we are nothing on our own.
Together, we are One.
We scaled a million blooms
to reap the summer's glow.
Now, in the merciless cold,
we share each morsel of heat,
each honeyed crumb.
We cram to a sizzling ball
to warm our queen, our heart, our home.
Alone, we would falter and drop,
a dot on the canvas of snow.
Together, we boil, we teem, we hum.
Deep in the winter hive,
we burn like a golden sun.
This fiery summer, my mother is dying
Because the streams are too shallow
And warm. There is nowhere
For my mother to rest and hide
From the sun and heat and predators.
Experts warn that my mother
Will go extinct in certain bodies of water
As the earth grows hotter and hotter.
Yes, my mother will soon be the last
Mother to perish in this sacred river.
My mother will be mourned by the trees,
And diver birds and hungry grizzlies.
There will be nothing left to deliver
Other than centuries of eulogies.
from You Don't Have to Say You Love Me by Sherman Alexie
His mother tells him that as a child she walked across the Spokane River on the backs of salmon. As a child I remember standing on the banks of the Kalama watching salmon swimming upstream to spawn, so thick that you could have easily imagined crossing the river on their backs.