Like a Hummingbird
LIKE A HUMMINGBIRD is poet Dale Harris's third CD recording in as many years. This latest is twelve poems with original musical accompaniment by a varied, talented group. Gary Yamane plays virtuoso flute, keyboard, guitar and percussion; he also engineered the CD at his Taos, NM earthship studio. Mike Balistrere on double bass produces unusual, evocative chords and haunting squalls of music. Sazlar, an Albuquerque based women's Near Eastern music group that has played together nearly twenty years, performed live with Harris at the Harwood Art Center in 2002 and music from that show was skillfully sampled by stavros for the last 2 tracks of the CD. These poems are songs in themselves, mostly about love, some speaking to wanderlust and the vagaries of affection as well as the quest for the divine. In the opening poem If I Tell You About My Life, Harris references the mythic sea goddess Ran, and remembers being a young mother, raising her daughters at the seaside under 'the sun, a great, indifferent beast' while 'bells from distant boats rang out indigo,' and whispers 'how beautifully those hours blazed.' In A Garden is likewise retrospective; an elderly woman recalls images of herself as a child venturing into an old woman's garden and coming full circle back to that garden after living an adventurous life. In Guadalupe, the poet praises the Mother while rejecting the Father god saying 'I have broken my heart enough on the high steps of Your house,' and likewise the Son 'His death never moved me but I wept much for His Mother, cried and lit candles for Her comfort.' Some of these poems seem set in another dimension altogether as the poet tells of a ghost lover, a man 'with winter colored hair and sea stung eyes' who returns as Memory, a sensory trace of salt air and bitter smell of wine. She complains she is a Hungry Ghost, holding out her empty bowl and begging for a crumb from the table of his love. As 'travelers in time, accustomed to goodbye', she meets him in space finally, saying 'it is so far between stars.' Her Heart & His Heart are a sketch of their differences: his heart is a vast, sunny expanse and hers, a hidden path with cool, green stream. Trust Your Body is set in the marshlands and tells of their soaring love 'From out my womb, two eagles flew', a love that eventually falters and fails 'You leave, the river blesses then recedes.' Like A Hummingbird, the title poem, is her ecstatic gift to the man she recognizes from past lives, seeing him as no one else does, 'the light reflecting from your armor, the swing of prayer beads, clicking, gleaming' and she invites him to love her 'like a hummingbird, joyful, persistently' and 'find my center, hover heart to heart with me.' There is a dreamy quality to these but the listener is brought back to more ordinary time by a jazz rendition of The Poets Marry, a light discourse on how her husband shows up late in her life 'with only a few mementos, some photos of old loves. He didn't need much room.' In the last 3 numbers, lean back on a pillow and enjoy being in a women's pavilion as you hear tambourines, bells, and sweet pluckings on an oude. Penelope works ritual under a full moon and conjures her wandering husband home after his long odyssey. Remembering their wedding vows and promising better times, she decides to weave less complicated patterns, live in simplicity as she awaits his return. I Love a Dervish is a set of short poems telling the peculiarities of the poet's boyfriend and their odd courtship. Written in the style of the classic Sufi poet Rumi, these are provocative and often humorous: 'This is a man who gets drunk on the names of God! I would be a fool to offer him only wine,' and 'Since we met, I only eat foods that are white. It is amazing how many there are!' In Sufi Dancer, she looks ahead to a time when she is too old to dance and praises her veil, 'See how it floats, a colored prayer, as though a hundred painted birds were hovering there.' In these last 2 numbers, the fabulous Sazlar group plays and sings lively, plaintive melodies while Harris recites, as they did together in their live Harwood performance. Always going for the gold, Dale Harris took time and care with this collection. These lyric poems are a labor of love by a poet intoxicated with word craft. The music in them could stand alone as fascinating, complex sound essays but together they are provide substantial fare for the listener.