Poetry Friday: Everything Worth Knowing Comes From Nature

Jul 10, 2020

In this week’s installment of Poetry Friday, we hear again from Rob Bettaso, a listener and poet  in the White Mountains. For the last 2 years, Rob has written a poem for KNAU at the turn of every season. Today, he brings us his summer poem called Everything Worth Knowing Comes from Nature. The inspiration came from watching a group of Scrub Jays hassling a young Oriole in his front yard. Rob draws parallels between their behavior and the behavior of humans.

Credit Arizona State Parks


RB:  Because Scrub Jays are much larger than Bullock's Orioles - the only type of oriole that I've seen nesting in my yard - I was worried that the jays were trying to make a meal of the young oriole, the one I had heard crying for food.

Anyway, when I went to capture the event in writing, it occurred to me that the two types of birds can serve as symbols for certain events that occur in human societies.

Because the world frequently strikes me as being very ambiguous, I do my best not to pass judgment on things within a timeframe that's inadequate for a deeper understanding. I will say though, that over my lifetime, it often seems to me that human behaviors are not too different from what we see from our fellow animals - and even plants - in the world around us.

Sure, we're supposed to have these giant brains that allow us to “transcend” our animal natures, but then again, we are just another life form – subject to the same demands that include such things as providing for our offspring a world in which they can thrive. It may be that, essentially, all living things struggle in the world in different ways but with the same ultimate goal.

In humans, because we appear to be so incredibly complex, I would hope that maybe we can figure out a way to not have to engage in conflict in order for us to perpetuate our own self-interests or those of our offspring, our societies, or even the living earth in its entirety. But, then again, it can be hard to be optimistic sometimes......

So, this is my poem:

Everything Worth Knowing Comes from Nature

Wide-open-windows weather,

Now, in our mountain summer.

And what I hear has feathers,

Just outside, back behind the house.

More fluff, than quills

But with a big, quivering,

Opened-wide, greedy bill;

And hungry, frightened eyes.

Not five minutes before:

I heard the cries,

As papa oriole

Chased those marauding jays.

Who, ever-watchful

For an unguarded moment,

Might make a quick morsel.

Of a downy, not-new, nestling.

Baby's careless cries

Rise, to a strident demand

For whatever mama, jams

Down that trembling, opened beak.

There can be no rest,

No lapse of attention,

By either parent, intent

To still, the unfillable needs,

Of expanding flesh,

And fragile bones.

Still fresh, from its memory

Of the confining shell.

No, the riot can not

Be quelled.

New life grows

Afraid, but certain.

(Music: Tim Janis)

Poetry Friday is produced by KNAU's Gillian Ferris. If you have an idea for a segment, drop her an email at Gillian.Ferris@nau.edu.