Wednesday Poem

Rigorists

….“We saw reindeer
browsing,” a friend who'd been in Lapland, said:
“finding their own food; they are adapted

….to scant reino
or pasture, yet they can run eleven
miles in fifty minutes; the feet spread when

….the snow is soft,
and act as snow-shoes. They are rigorists,
however handsomely cutwork artists

….of Lapland and
Siberia elaborate the trace
or saddle-girth with saw-tooth leather lace.

….One looked at us
with its firm face part brown, part white,—a queen
of alpine flowers. Santa Claus' reindeer, seen

….at last, had grey-
brown fur, with a neck like edelweiss or
lion's foot,— leontopodium more

….exactly.” And
this candelabrum-headed ornament
for a place where ornaments are scarce, sent

….to Alaska,
was a gift preventing the extinction
of the Esquimo. The battle was won

….by a quiet man,
Sheldon Jackson, evangel to that race
whose reprieve he read in the reindeer's face

by Marianne Moore

from News of the Universe;
Sierra Club Books, 1995

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