* sketching with Miriam Sagan

*historically historic district*
*historically historic district*

This is a church right across the street from our new apartment in Cincinnati.  We have moved into a historic district which reveals new things with each walk we take around the neighborhood.

The drive across country was a series of things being revealed.  In Itasca, Ani pointed out a cardinal excitedly, fascinated with how the actual red of the cardinal is a different from what she envisions in her head.  I told her to sketch it.  She responded: How do you sketch that red?


A few weeks before the move I was delighted to receive from Miriam Sagan herself a copy of her book “Seven Places in America: A Poetic Sojourn.”  The poems and essays in the book follow Sagan as she travels to seven places and documents the life lived and seen.  It was a great guide for my own poetic sojourn, and the inspiration for my post last week.

The poem below is one of a number poems in Sagan’s book that create their magic through a series of short lyrics.  There’s something about the short lyric that is ideal for travel.  When you travel there is so much to see – you can barely take it all in, much less write about it.

How do you sketch that red?

One line at a time.


Sketches in a Notebook – Miriam Sagan

a lizard
in a rolled up shade

tree bromeliads –
two cormorants
build a nest of twigs

man with a cane
crosses path with
a tiny turtle

child pats the palm tree
the alligator

tree canopy
butterfly, and purple glade
morning glory

rare buttonwood vine
looks like any foliage –
but rare –

a leaf drops in
the mahogany hammock –
without season

out of the palm trees
a peacock darts – escaped –
but from where?

tree snail gleams
in the leaf canopy –
stolen ghost orchid

raindrops’ circles –
yellow spatterdock flowers
floating green pods –

two shy vultures
pick raindrops
off the car’s roof

only the most
delicate colored pencils
draw the tree snail’s shell

drawn in an inky line,
overcast afternoon

drop tip
implies rain


Happy implying!


* check out Miriam Sagan’s blog here.

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