Treacherous Island

by on Friday, 23 February 2007 Comments
Two birch-trees and one monsoon frog
Converse under the majestic archway
That leads to Treacherous Island’s principal deity.
Tea leaves cover the slopes of the iceberg; rice fields
Give harvests of chestnuts; stones, shells and blades
Render the same tenuous sound; the wave never
Reaches the sand, the sand never offends the wind.

Birch-trees and monsoon frogs have little in common,
A few words, none of them coming from their mother tongues,
A few words left by Gulliver when he left these banks, a few
Words - just enough for their evening entertainment.
The principal deity remains mute, leaving ordinarily the talking
To the stars and the crabs, to the deer and the figs.

Here, men and trees are entrenched in bitter rivalry.
It seems that long ago men had roots, trees were free.
The trees were protecting these dwarfs from vultures and hyenas,
And, when the assault became too ferocious, the king tree
Consumed a sacrifice for the sweetest of the maiden, planting its feet Into the soil and freeing her from the same links, unknowing
That her descent one day would ax the fairest of its sons.

The evening is green and salty. On the top of the hill, the trees
Again recount past deeds with slow motions of the branches,
And the birds try to remember which foliage belongs to whom
Before hiding within the trunk - for these birds fear the stars.

The deity suddenly yawns, her hand raised up to the nostril.
Everything stops. Nothing happens. And the stars and the crabs
And the deer and the figs elaborate a bridge of bites and sounds
That overwhelms the poor talking of the frogs and the trees.

Below the majestic archway used to live an old witch
Hidden within a small sanctuary built for a long-forgotten hero.
She is gone now. She flew away the day a young woman
With green, curved eyes came from nowhere and silently took on
The witch’s duties.
The young woman has no name, no voice, no genealogy.
She is seen sometimes in the wood,
Speaking in her own fashion to the dead.

Such are the ways of the island.
Things just happen because it should not be that way.
And the stars and the crabs and the deer and the figs celebrate
The treacherous deity who lets them live and speak and again speak.

Frogs and birch-trees know far too much for joining in the feast

Where will I go after the night?
Into the limitless whiteness.
And I will sit there, with slow motions of the two hands.
As does a wind-up monkey with a drum.
I will sit there. In the Nowhere.
In the Nowhere so white as to defy the Artic tongues.
The countless words for “snow.” The meager word for “death.”
The whiteness has no banks.
The silence has no banks.
Except for the short night that still is to be crossed.

I fear and love water as I fear death
And try to love the thought of it,
A thought as small as these fishes purple and blue
Ten meters below the level, a thought
Sometimes as big and grey
As the monsters, lower, I never saw.

Reefs all around the island, reefs
Before and maybe after death, reefs
Green and black, reefs within me,
And the sea dugs deeper when she sees
The rocks that do not dare defy the rising waves.

Under the level of the sea,
Stories evolve into fishes,
Grainy philosophies into the stones and their flora,
And as to the giant waves that surge from the below
Nobody knows for sure what they were like before there was the sea.

This is not a country where you will find an apple-tree,
It is too shrewd or innocent for hosting fruits like these,
The fruits it grows bleed when you speak to them
And cry the cries of love once in your mouth.
The fruits are that treasure that disappears as soon as discovered.
This is not a country where you will find an apple-tree.

Fishes as sweet as pebbles are wandering
Throughout the night of the sea, and my eyes
Are lost in the drawer that hides the stars and the candies.
I have grasped the tree of coral, and the bliss
Of being alive reverberates into my knees.
Treacherous Island, I love thee, I love
The deceptive sound of the waves, I love
The insidious poison that makes the palm-trees grow
From the scars of the sea to the salt of the sky.

Bendu (笨篤)

A case of double identity... "Bendu" is no one else than Benoit Vermander when the latter takes refuge in painting, calligraphy and poetry...

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