The Wind People

I was typing out for a friend an old poem of mine from about 1970, in that prehistoric predigital era, and I liked it and thought I’d put it up on the blog. It was in Counter-Terra (Christopher’s Books, 1978).

The Wind People

Their faces are the skeins of air that we
sometimes perceive to finger across a flag or sheet;
their bodies, that which fills a tree
when it is wrought by their possession, throws
about its limbs as if distraught.

And they are like the catspaws of the fire,
and they are simple-minded in their time;
often their quarrels by coincidence
catch in the splinters of a human fate
and pull us willy-nilly to the grave or flame.

Lovers, quite often, capture by mistake
within a kiss, a wind-person by the hem
and then the breath that each one breathes
is the trapped and unknowing spirit of another being.
It’s this that scares a lover oftentime.

The wind people inhabit wars and shores.
It’s they who form the whistle of the shell,
for they are fascinated by all forms of spirals
and love to lie along the horns of shells.
They’re angered, though, by bangs and bells.

Especially in Fall the wind people come by.
They think that we are only swifter forms of trees. To them
the tender flesh of thigh and breast is hard as stone.
In these last months
I’ve become not much different from they.

A year ago I felt a ticking in my eye
whenever wind was round.
Investigating this phenomenon I found
A veil of colors in the air so faint it was
Not so much sight as sound.

At first I could not tell the boundary
Between one windperson and another. Now
I’ve even named them, though their names are secret.
I wondered whether they had anything to do with prayer:
But they come neither out of heaven nor hell.

–And now I know their shapes in whirling sand;
I’ve grown to recognize their smell
(like hills of bitter snow) and see
in turns of my own madness their many-fingered hand
weaving their versions of eternity.

By Frederick Turner

Professor, poet, lecturer, black belt, and more.

13 replies on “The Wind People”

I tried to ask ’em how they felt about ultrasonic anemometers and infrared gas analysers, but they just whistled at me.

The poem about the Wind People explains a lot of mystifying experiences. I will keep an eye open for them…

Regarding the return of The New World to print: Huzzah! I frequently recommend this book and now it will be easier for folks to get hold of it.

I am so grateful for your amazing work. Thanks and keep it up!

How delightful to follow Linda’s comment!
I camped for some time on Mesa de los Indios above the Chama River Wilderness Valley, and near the town of Gallinas, NM. Just take Forest Road 8.

During those days several Wind People repeatedly came up the SE cliff and ran across the Mesa to the NW side. They romped like young dogs or young boys. I could almost hear them laughing, and I am pretty sure they know I could sense their presence.

Thanks for noticing. We need out Tribal reminders. Kathairein

Beautiful, thank you! I love the concept that what we see as discrete objects or isolated processes are also the signs and traces of larger actions otherwise invisible to the human eye – as the clouds are a trace of the atmosphere’s complex interplay, when the air masses’ dance, their speed, temperature, and water content, leave the occasional transitory footprint.

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