About suffering he was never wrong,
Rufino Tamayo; how well he understood
its human position; how it takes place
while someone else is eating a watermelon
or opening a window or smoking a cigarette—
how, while the middle-aged are reverently,
passionately, trapped by their terrors,
there is always a girl who escapes,
clutching her hoop in open air.
Tamayo never forgot
that a star-crossed cosmos must run
its course anyhow on Earth—
an untidy spot, where the dogs of war
go on with their slaughter,
and dive-bombing birds
chase innocents into the trees.
In Cow Swatting Flies, for instance—
how the beast, monumental,
deliberately turns from disaster;
any distant, forsaken cry
is an unimportant failure;
the sun shines as it must
on green aloe and pyramids of dirt;
and the flies who smell something
amazing, a cow’s behind,
have nothing to do but dodge
that whirring, propeller-like tail.
In 2007, there was a monumental exhibition of Rufino Tamayo’s works at the Santa Barbara Museum of Art. I was among a group of poets invited to write about the art and take part in a public reading at the museum. “Cow Swatting Flies” was especially well received. As I returned to my seat, I passed by Luis Leal, a distinguished professor of Chicano Studies at UC Santa Barbara and a living legend. He gave me a nod of approval which I treasure to this day.
A California resident and poet for more than 40 years, Cynthia Anderson is the author
of eleven books, most recently a collection of haiku and senryu entitled Full
Circle (Cholla Needles, 2022). Her poems have been published widely in journals
and anthologies, and she has received multiple nominations for Best of the Net and
the Pushcart Prize. In 2020, she took up short-form poetry including haiku, senryu,
cherita, haibun, and split sequences. Her recent work focuses on the natural world
and her family history.
Cynthia is co-editor of the anthology A Bird Black As the Sun: California Poets
on Crows & Ravens (Green Poet Press). She makes her home in the Mojave Desert
near Joshua Tree National Park.
Author’s website: www.cynthiaandersonpoet.com
Formerly Known as Ion, haibun by Cynthia Anderson which was
nominated by MacQ for the Red Moon Anthologies, and selected for publication in
Contemporary Haibun 17 (Red Moon Press, 2022).