Naming by Scott Edward Anderson

A new filmpoem by Scottish artist Alastair Cook for a piece by the American poet Scott Edward Anderson. Alastair notes, “Naming was premiered at The Out of the Blue Drill Hall in Edinburgh in January 2011; it was shot entirely on Kodachrome Super8 in 2010 and contains no post production, after effects or erstwhile digital trickery.”

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    Scott Edward Anderson 3 November, 2016


    The way a name lingers in the snow
    when traced by hand.
    The way angels are made in snow,
    all body down,
    arms moving from side to ear to side to ear—
    a whisper, a pause;
    the slight, melting hesitation–

    The pause in the hand as it moves
    over a name carved in black granite.
    The “Chuck, Chuck, Chuck,”
    of great-tailed grackles
    at southern coastal marshes,
    or the way magpies repeat,
    “Meg, Meg, Meg”–

    The way the rib cage of a whale
    resembles the architecture of I. M. Pei.
    The way two names on a page
    separated by thousands of lines,
    pages, bookshelves, miles, can be connected.
    The way wind hums through cord grass;
    rain on bluestem, on mesquite–

    The tremble in the sandpiper
    as it skitters over tidal mudflats,
    tracking names in the wet silt,
    silt that has been building
    since Foreman lost to Ali,
    since Troy fell — building until
    we forget names altogether–

    The way children, who know only
    syllables endlessly repeated,
    connect one moment to the next by
    humming, humming, humming–
    The way magpies connect branches
    into thickets for their nesting–

    The curve of thumb as it caresses
    the letters in the name of a loved one
    on the printed page, connecting
    each letter with a trace of oil
    from fingerprint to fingerprint,
    again and again and again—

    Scott Edward Anderson

    This poem first appeared in the Alaska Quarterly Review, Summer 2001
    c) 2001 Scott Edward Anderson, All Rights Reserved

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