Erenlai - Displaying items by tag: poetry
Wednesday, 28 October 2009 00:00

Poetry on Progo

While Cruising throught Yogyakarta Province on my rented Honda Mio, I came across Yoyo Jewe. Perceiving the Indonesian judicial system as rife with corruption, Yoyo, the former law student gave up a life of material benefits to dedicate himself to the arts. He now focuses on poetry, dance and performance. Here we are at an Artists retreat on the Progo River, near the wondrous Borobodur Temple. After some blissful nude swimming in the river, we decided to make and film a poetry performance on a raft. Here Yoyo reads ’The Secret of the Fruit’ in English. Accompanying on the harmonicas are Yasmi Setiawati and Rumah Seni...


Monday, 28 September 2009 21:25

As small and immense as a soul: gardens of Suzhou

If gardens are the hidden paradises of China, Suzhou is the paradise of gardens...

Among those she hides within her walls, eight are now included into the world heritage sites. The "Humble Administrator Garden", the "Garden of the Master of Nets", the " Blue Waves Pavilion ’, the “Lingering Garden" are among the most famous of them. Often, they were created by scholar-officials aspiring to escape the worries of their offices Suzhou leads us towards the secret of Chinese gardens: a mystical place, a dream land, a fragile and tenacious Utopia, a garden is also and ultimately a living body, complete with orifices, vessels and limbs.

Orifices, first ... The garden, a small and secluded place, endlessly increases its size through its internal divisions - mounds that break the perspective, walls running along the walkways, partitions all around its pavilions. But these partitions are pierced by openwork windows, round doors and numerous small openings through which the walker can appropriate space and sight, reconstructing the scenes and dividing anew the world ... The space actually occupied by the garden must be kept modest - its bends, its curves, its openings extend it towards infinity, till it spreads over the extent of a soul.

The openings suggest the paths to be followed. Windows and doors gradually reveal the garden to our senses, as the painter’s hand unfolds with pride and caution the scroll on which he made the roaring waterfall, the trail on the side of the mountain, the grove pines and the sea of clouds come to life ... The garden indeed is a scroll, a miniature world opened up and enlarged by our walks and our whims. For whom wanders from one window to another, to the peaceful bamboos, to the banana trees gently whistling in the wind, succeed a rock mimicking the peak of a cliff, a hill of which the summit is hidden, the corner of a roof, or a cut of the sky speaking only of emptiness... Through its countless orifices, the garden multiplies the eyes and the dreams of the one who walks in its midst, till our visions are gathered in an unique glance that plunges into the secret and double soul of the garden and his dweller.

Pierced with orifices, the garden is irrigated by vessels through which circulate life, breath and seasons ... Water animates a garden - water collected in a pond and divided into channels that flow in its interior; water that makes small garden rocks the mimes of the formidable mountains that the sponsor and the creator of the place have marveled at during their travels before suggesting their majesty in their private compound. The passer-by crosses over miniature seas fringed with dwarfed vegetation on tiny suspension bridges... Ethereal scents mixed with the sounds of faint waterfalls whisper around – the garden stammers our dreams between the lines of day and shade. Nearby the water, are scattered small and pensive trees, and pebbles that speak of the shore and are strung like a string of islands. A flute, a bird leaving traces of their absence...

Irrigated by the vessels that make it a living body, the garden can deploy its limbs, taking the form of a lying dragon, a unicorn, or perhaps one of these Taoist immortals of whom we do not know whether they are men or gods. Its limbs are made of its eminences, these modest mountains that transform the pond into a sea, the channels into giant rivers, and the courtyards into continents. They are also its paths lined with plants and flowers that speak of the virtues shared between the garden and who called it to existence: temperance, courage and longevity ...

And yet ... Though it covers the full extent of a soul, the garden can not forget that it is also so tiny – a grain that condenses the world, but all the same a grain, perishable and insignificant ... And Chinese gardens, throughout history, were often destroyed, burned, redesigned and re-emerging ... Ultimately, the garden is perhaps a boat, the boat which leads us gently to the sea of things impermanent, and which, for a moment, makes its bitterness more bearable...


Friday, 17 July 2009 00:00

Treasure and Treachery

Poetic exploration of a treacherous island.


Wednesday, 03 June 2009 00:00

Beyond illusion: the positive power of imagination

I Dwell in Possibility
A Fairer House than Prose
--Emily Dickinson


Using one’s imagination is always risky. First, it amounts to depart from the common lot, to come up with ideas and ways of expressing oneself that might meet with hostility or bewilderment. Second… using one’s imagination might just lead you to make mistakes, to come up with hypothesis that do not pass the test of time or experience. Do not we say to someone “this is the fruit of your imagination” for decrying what he tells us, implying that he is living in a world of delusion? Our imagination can be aroused by the daemons of jealousy, pride, fear or hatred… and lead us to tragic mistakes. So, let us recognize it from the start: imagination indeed can be a force of evil and destruction.

But the main point is that, indeed, imagination is a force. It cannot be separated from our physical condition (fever awakens in us the power of imagination…), our desires and our memories. However, when these factors are monitored, imagination can fly in the sky like a bird of prey, and open up new horizons. The problem is not imagination per se, it is what we feed our imaginative power with. Our imagination becomes what we give it to eat and drink, so to speak…

To let our imagination run free means that we are able to abstract ourselves from present conditions, to create a distance between oneself and the world as it is introduced and conditioned for our use. At some point, we doubt what is asserted around us… and from this doubt arise new hypotheses. This doubt might no be provoked by our “reason”, but “reason” will be stimulated by what comes from outside. Without imagination and dream, no way to invent non-Euclidian geometry…

Imagination is begotten by dreams – and dreams are begotten by sleep… Only the one who sleeps and liberates his mind and soul during the sleep will be able to imagine a different world. Imagination is in conflict with utilitarianism. Imagination is anchored into gratuitousness. You need moments when you dream about nothing in particular for imagining something so new that it seems to be directly emerging from Nothingness. Conversely, organizations that are fully “rational”, letting no place to chance or fantasy, progressively destroy the imaginative power of the people who work in them. You need imperfection, free space, free time and some degree of fuzziness for giving imagination its chance, so as it might change the world you dwell in. A world too perfect or too rational becomes entropic, and perishes from its own virtues.

Five keys for developing the positive power of imagination
Taking into account what precedes, I’d like to suggest five basic attitudes through which we can nurture our imaginative power and make it a force for changing our environment:

-First, our imagination is powerfully nourished by the contemplation of the human person in her riches and complexity. Persons focus our dreams and desires; entering into relationship with concrete people awakens our eloquence, our passions and senses, and consequently our imagination. As a matter of fact, the first person with whom we deal is “I”, and the relationship I nurture with myself is key for the way I use my imagination. So, let us start by contemplating ourselves, to assess and enjoy our own gifts - and our gratitude for everything we have received will already enhance the positive power of our imagination.

-Imagination is nurtured by a sense of time, there are natural tempos of maturation in nature, in art, in personal growth, or in management. Being too hasty will kill our imaginative power. On the contrary, being stubborn in one’s dream and project while respecting the rhythm of maturation proper to the project and its environment will make our imagination more vivid and powerful.

-Imagination is nurtured by freedom. My own inner freedom makes me able to challenge what I have been taught. The freedom I give to the Other will make her able to challenge our common assumptions and to come up with creative solutions to the problems we are encountering.

-Imagination is nurtured by our spirit of service. When I prove to be sensitive to the needs, disarrays and desires of the people I am living or working with, I develop a new sensitivity to my environment, and I naturally ask myself questions on what is to be done for answering these needs, opening up spaces of growth and creativity. The very fact of not putting myself “at the center” liberates my vision and makes me able to imagine solution that would be unconceivable for someone who puts his self-interest first. It is from the margins that the scene appears most clearly…

-Imagination is nurtured by communication and friendship. When communication is inspired by a desire for truth in respect, i.e. by a common search for the common good, the exchange of words, opinions and emotions naturally awakes ideas and ways of proceedings that could not be imagined as long as exchange was not taking place. Imagination, likes fire, needs wood, and communication is akin to the process of cutting wood and putting it into the flame when one fears it might become extinct.

“Poetry is what is lost in translation”- or so wrote Robert Frost. And if the reverse was true? It seems to me that imagination arises in a kind of “translation process.” When I make the effort to explain to myself with my own words and through my own feelings what had been taught to me, then I discover the limits of the ancient statements I was nourished with, or I discover new truths within them. The fact of “translating” old truths into a new language opens up a window through which new landscapes are discovered. Translation is also what happens when we mutually elucidate for each other what we have understood and how we feel. The exchange that takes place is the space into which “common imagination” arises, so as to become a drive for change. “Translation” of shapes, sounds, feelings and images is also what happens throughout the artistic process. “Imagination is what is gained in translation” – and, so, it is in our power to generate endless supplies of it. Contrarily to oil or to coal, imagination is an inexhaustible energy.



Thursday, 21 May 2009 03:54

Cessation of our tale

Having just seen
the world’s worst decades,
we’re tortoised in our faith,
the world of Hades

and the cessation of
our tale; after all,
for light to come on
the curtain must fall,

it’s a fact, there’s
inner peace there. But as I
was saying we really
should obey the signs.

Conceding quietly
might just work out
for the best. What I
know without doubt,

what I seen with these eyes
lessoned by war,
is that it doesn’t matter
who you are;

what imports
in the end is the way
the body just knows
it’s time to decay.

 

Photo by C. Phiv


Friday, 28 March 2008 00:00

A Matter of Poetry

Bob Ronald rhymes and Benoit Vermander's poems

A rhymer like myself finds beauty and harmony in the sounds and rhythms of words which he or she crafts into written melodies ready for recitation and enjoyment. There is a message hidden in the rhyme, but it was born giving life and purpose to the composition and versification.

A poet like Benoit Vermander, on the other hand, sees first the beauty and harmony in some insight and transforms it into a moving, stimulating expression of truth that we ordinary mortals have probably overlooked or did not appreciate. An eye on the world has been offered us without which we would go through life oblivious of the realms and the meanings deep down things. Sometimes the poet also instills the composition with rhythm and rhyme, making it even more striking.



Here are some examples. First some rhymes of my own.

The Way To Bounce

The adage is that
When falling, a cat
Will land on its feet.
No way that I can.
I’m only a man.
I’d land on my seat.

It’s the way that you bounce
Not the landing that counts.
If still you can stand
Right after you fall,
Not hurting at all,
Then the landing was grand.


Sky’s Secret

I look at sky
And wonder why
It doesn’t fall.
I know a lot,
But God I’m not.
My mind is small.
I know a bit
How some things fit.
I don’t know all.

I wish I knew
What makes sky blue.
I don’t know yet.
So much to know
Where does time go?
I mustn’t fret.

It’s not God’s plan
That people can
Become so wise
That they can find
What’s on His mind
Or in his eyes.

There’ll be no quiz
About what is
Or how or when.
But when I rest
From all my quest,
I’ll know all then.

Do what I ought.
It’s not my thought
That makes me true.
Just do my best,
I’ll pass the test
When life is through.

Every Second Needs A First

No fruit at the top
Is found on a crop
With nothing below.
Before that, indeed,
There must be good seed
To make it all grow.

The way to be bolder
Is stand on the shoulder
Of someone who’s already bold.
You’ll only be taller,
If once you were smaller.
For only the golden are gold.

No letter, no mail.
There’s only a sale
If something is sold.
No moisture, no hail.
There’s only a tale
If a story is told.

Numbers

Two plus two
Is quite a few.
Four plus four
Is twice as more.
Six plus six,
You’re in a fix,
For two hands then
Make only ten.
The proper sum
From toes must come.

The range of numbers has no end,
What each one means you cannot bend.
And then to add to all your cares,
There’s plus and minus, roots and squares.
How much nicer would it be
If there were only one, two, three.

Those are my rhymes. Here are Benoit’s poems.

Ghosts and angels

I will not wait on the threshold.
I will wander into wet fields and ghost mountains
Until I lose my way.
I will then call for help,
Hoping for the coming of green and grey angels
Escorted by wild beasts which they tame
If no other mission requires them.

We will all stay in the incandescent shadow
That covers and burns these bounties,
Watching over the luxuriant desert
Where one’s path is found once it’s lost.


Pocket landscape

The soul - as misty
As the winter hills -
Lies down, and the breeze
Soon bares her chest.
Once clouds are gone
Where will be hiding
The soul, the soul just as misty
As are the mornings on the hills?


Moving away

Be the curve of my sight and the touch of my hand,
You, crest of the Southern mountains
That floats from one ocean to the next
With the easy melancholy only mastered
By things that don’t need to stand firm,
The things in which dwells the spirit
Who knows how to move volumes and lines
Till they picture music to the eyes and the breath
- The breath that moves along the crest
of the Southern mountains.


Not moving anymore

Trees and peaks go briskly on the road
As I stand still. The tunes they hum,
I perceive them only vaguely, such is the speed.
The birds are at pain to follow, and finally decide
To gather around the salty dream I have become.
Fruits fallen on the way nourish me, and fonts
Born in my throat flow down towards the roots
Of the ground that transfixes me.


Speak low

A night as blue as a bird’s tail
Speaks low to the ear of the leaves,
Telling of immensurable spaces that are buried
- So says the night - into the cells,
the sand and the foam.

There is a well that collects the white secrets
The night is breathing away,
A well as deep as the palm and the pupil.

Purple is the sound of the sea
When morning comes
– the sea that at dawn returns to the caves
The secrets sung low to the leaves.


The biggest difference between my verse and Benoit’s poems is that strip the rhyme and meter from mine and there is practically nothing left, whereas his thoughtful inspiration without any rhyme achieves its high level of meaning and emotion.

As rhymer, I hope the readers will get a kick out of my plays with sounds and words. As poet Benoit hopes that others will encounter the realty and feel the throbbing pulse throbbing beneath the surface trappings that camouflage what lies below.

Actually, I am more than just a rhymer. I also compose poems that I hope are more than grand sounding songs, as the following suggests:

Some are quite funny;
Some of them sad;
Some full of wonder;
Some of them glad.
Some are pretentious
And meant to impress,
In others I try
To plainly express
The feelings that I
Found deep in my heart.
And sometimes depart
From meter and rhyme
To echo and show
The ebb and the flow
Of my mood at the time.

 

 

Published in
Focus: Poetry and Song

Saturday, 08 December 2007 00:00

The Appeal of poetry

People express and communicate ideas and messages through language. Before the invention of alphabets and hieroglyphs and other symbolic ways of preserving and communicating, such as the pounding on hollow logs by African natives, the smoke signals of American Indians and pictographs drawn on cave walls, language was expressed only by gestures and spoken sounds. Nowadays we are bombarded not just by conversations, but by barrages of words spewing out of radios, TV sets, and phones and an endless array of newspapers, magazines and books. Some of these communications are mainly utilitarian, relating news events, imparting information, recording data, instructing, etc. Others are intended for pleasure or amusement, like stories, humor, drama, musical lyrics and finally poetry, which is what this is mostly about.
 
Written language is generally divided into “prose” and “poetry”. The American Heritage Dictionary defines “prose” as “ordinary speech or writing, without metrical structure.” It is the type of expression generally found in books and newspapers. Some prose, however, is considered to be “literature” in the sense of “imaginative or creative writing, especially of recognized artistic value (American Heritage Dictionary).” This kind of literature does more than just narrate facts. By its choice of words and the way it describes a scene or event, it portrays colors and evokes feelings and moods and brings out a wealth of subtle, hidden meanings between the words. It is a pleasant aesthetic experience.
 
Take for instance the famous first paragraph of Charles Dickens’ novel “A Tale of Two Cities”:
It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair, we had everything before us, we had nothing before us, we were all going direct to Heaven, we were all going direct the other way--in short, the period was so far like the present period, that some of its noisiest authorities insisted on its being received, for good or for evil, in the superlative degree of comparison only.
Contrast that with the way a journalist or reporter might have put it:

It was the year 1775. To some people everything was as good as it could get. To others things were as bad as ever. Those who had it good wanted nothing to change. Those who had it bad wanted to overthrow everything. There was hope on one side and despair on the other. Just like modern times it generated a lot of tension and uneasiness.
Both versions express more or less the same idea, but Dickens is much more graphic and sensitive and moving. The second one could serve as introduction to a book or article and who knows it might eventually receive a Pulitzer Prize for journalism, but ordinarily literature that is acclaimed artistically is full of color and vivid descriptions and feelings. The reader is left not just with a mass of detailed information, but a sense of pleasant aesthetic experience arising from images created by the writer’s choice and crafting of words.
Take another example, this time the first part of the first paragraph setting the scene for the first episode in the famous novel Ivanhoe by Sir Walter Scott. An unimaginative writer might have begun like this:

Two men are sitting in a forest. The trees are so close to each other the sun’s rays barely pass through, but there are some open sections through which a person can easily see for some distance.

Contrast that with what the novelist wrote:
In that pleasant district of merry England which is watered by the river Don, there extended in ancient times a large forest, covering the greater part of the beautiful hills and valleys which lie between Sheffield and the pleasant town of Doncaster. …

The sun was setting upon one of the rich grassy glades of that forest, … Hundreds of broad-headed, short-stemmed, wide-branched oaks, which had witnessed perhaps the stately march of the Roman soldiery, flung their gnarled arms over a thick carpet of the most delicious green sward; in some places they were intermingled with beeches, hollies, and copewood of various descriptions, so closely as totally to interrupt the level beams of the sinking sun; in others they receded from each other, forming those long sweeping vistas, in the intimacy of which the eye delights to lose itself, while imagination considers them as the paths to yet wilder scenes of sylvan solitude. Here the red rays of the sun shot a broken and discoloured light, that partially hug upon the shattered boughs and mossy trunks of the trees, and there they illuminated in brilliant patches the portions of turf to which they made their way. …

The human figures that completed this landscape, were in number two, partaking, in their dress and appearance, of that wild and rustic character, which belonged to the woodlands of the West-Riding of Yorkshire of that period.

Sir Walter’s description is much more vivid. A mood is created and we have details with which to create a mental picture of the scene.

The American Heritage Dictionary defines “poetry” as “a piece of literature written in meter; verse”. There are several things that distinguish poetry from prose. Traditionally poems are written as a series of lines in each of which the words are arranged in more or less identical patterns of accented and unaccented syllables (the meter), which gives the poem a cadence when read aloud. The last words of each line are usually expected to rhyme. Another important thing that distinguishes poetry is its choice and use of words. To fit the meter, the order in which words are presented is often different from that in ordinary prose, but even more significantly, the words are often selected for the way they sound or they are given underlying meanings and nuances or evoke images that create a mood or symbolically express ideas about reality that go beyond the literal meaning of the words. Poetic diction often uses verbal devices like assonance, alliteration, onomatopoeia and rhythm, which often leave the poem deliberately vague, ambiguous, suggestive, mysterious, ironic, or symbolic.
The reader of a poem is not only entertained by the poet’s literary style, but is moved to see reality in a new light. As one expert put it (Polish historian of aesthetics Vladyslaw Tatarkiewicz in an article “The Concept of Poetry”, quoted in “Poetry,” Wikipedia Free Encyclopedia) poetry is “an art based on language” and “expresses a certain state of mind”. According to poet Archibald MacLeish (same source) “A poem should not mean / but be”.
Here are several examples illustrating the differences between prose and poetry. In the first, look at a brief observation someone might make about trees:
No poem is as nice as a tree, which rooted in the ground lifts its branches to the sky, alternately washed by rain or covered with snow. Sometimes birds build their nests in it. Anybody can write a poem, but only God makes trees.

That is all very true, but so dull and ordinary, no one will ever remember it or quote it. Not so the poem “Trees” by Joyce Kilmer:

I think that I shall never see
A poem lovely as a tree.
A tree whose hungry mouth is prest
Against the earth’s sweet flowing breast;
A tree that looks at God all day,
And lifts her leafy arms to pray;
A tree that may in summer wear
A nest of robins in her hair;
Upon whose bosom snow has lain;
Who intimately lives with rain.
Poems are made by fools like me,
But only God can make a tree.

As a second example, look at what this person who is not a poet might have written in a letter to his mother:

I was walking along and came upon a lot of flowers on the edge of the lake under the trees. There were thousands of them blowing in the wind. It was a very pleasant sight that I recall with pleasure.

Contrast that with the poem “Daffodils” written by William Wordsworth:

I wander’d lonely as a cloud That floats on high o’er vales and hills, When all at once I saw a crowd, A host, of golden daffodils; Beside the lake, beneath the trees,
Fluttering and dancing in the breeze.
Continuous as the stars that shine And twinkle on the Milky Way, They stretch’d in never-ending line Along the margin of a bay: Ten thousand saw I at a glance,
Tossing their heads in sprightly dance.
The waves beside them danced; but they Out-did the sparkling waves in glee: A poet could not but be gay, In such a jocund company: I gazed -- and gazed -- but little thought
What wealth the show to me had brought:
For oft, when on my couch I lie In vacant or in pensive mood, They flash upon that inward eye Which is the bliss of solitude; And then my heart with pleasure fills,
And dances with the daffodils.
Finally, here is how a rather dull preacher might express himself about man’s disregard for God’s creation:

Why don’t men recognize or heed the signs of God’s presence in the world like the flashes of lightning, the reflections of light or the properties of oil? Men are spoiling and destroying the world by the senseless ways they act. In spite of all this God continues to renew and bless nature with his loving care.

Compare this with the way that the poet Gerard Manley Hopkins says the same thing in his moving poem “God’s Grandeur”.

The world is charged with the grandeur of God.
It will flame out, like shining from shook foil;
It gathers to a greatness, like the ooze of oil
Crushed. Why do men then now not reck his rod?
Generations have trod, have trod, have trod;
And all is seared with trade; bleared, smeared with toil;
And wears man’s smudge and shares man’s smell: the soil
Is bare now, nor can foot feel, being shod.
And for all this, nature is never spent;
There lives the dearest freshness deep down things;
And though the last lights off the black West went
Oh, morning, at the brown brink eastward, springs--
Because the Holy Ghost over the bent
World broods with warm breast and with ah! bright wings.

Not everyone appreciates poetry. Collections of poems seldom, if ever, rate high on bestseller lists. Many readers of fiction and non-fiction and subscribers to magazines that cater to special interests look down on poetry, consider poets as idyllic dreamers at best or soft and unmanly at worst. They lack the patience and the inclination to waste time on such pretension for playing around with words.
 
They don’t know what they are missing and have no desire to find out.
 
The earliest poetry that has survived to the present is the Akkadian Epic of Gilgamish from the 3rd century B.C. There were many epics in ancient times. The poetic form might have made them easier to remember and recite by storytellers. Since then poetry has evolved into many forms including free verse, that is, poems with lines of unequal length, no rhyming and sometimes no meter. Their emphasis is on expressing ideas in a poetic way. There are also examples of prose that are considered poetic because of the way the ideas are expressed in language similar in style or content to what is found in poems.
 
There are many kinds of poems. Some tell stories; some are meant to instruct; some are meant to convey the writer’s feelings or reflections about reality; some just use meter and rhyme as ways to entertain saying things that are clever or satiric or are whimsical or funny.


Friday, 23 February 2007 00:00

Treacherous Island

-1–
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

-2-
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.

-3-
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.

-4-
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.



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