Saturday, August 25, 2007

Carolyn Forché

I have been doing some reading...mostly of Carolyn Forché, who edited my all-time favourite anthology, which I studied in a course at Carleton, The Poetry of Witness. If you have not yet read her, you should. There are too many links to her work for me to choose one, but I will share with you what is probably one of her best known poems.

The Colonel (From The Country Between Us, by Carolyn Forché.)

What you have heard is true. I was in his house. His wife carried a tray of coffee and sugar. His daughter filed her nails, his son went out for the night. There were daily papers, pet dogs, a pistol on the cushion beside him. The moon swung bare on its black cord over the house. On the television was a cop show. It was in English. Broken bottles were embedded in the walls around the house to scoop the kneecaps from a man's legs or cut his hands to lace. On the windows there were gratings like those in liquor stores. We had dinner, rack of lamb, good wine, a gold bell was on the table for calling the maid. The maid brought green mangoes, salt, a type of bread. I was asked how I enjoyed the country. There was a brief commercial in Spanish. His wife took everything away. There was some talk then of how difficult it had become to govern. The parrot said hello on the terrace. The colonel told it to shut up, and pushed himself from the table. My friend said to me with his eyes: say nothing. The colonel returned with a sack used to bring groceries home. He spilled many human ears on the table. They were like dried peach halves. There is no other way to say this. He took one of them in his hands, shook it in our faces, dropped it into a water glass. It came alive there. I am tired of fooling around he said. As for the rights of anyone, tell your people they can go fuck themselves. He swept the ears to the floor with his arm and held the last of the wine in the air. Something for your poetry, no? he said. Some of the ears on the floor caught this scrap of his voice. Some of the ears on the floor were pressed to the ground.

Saturday, August 04, 2007

It's hard to know...

sometimes, when you've been published. I was googling (is that a verb?) and came across a reference to my inclusion in the Cranberry Tree Press anthology. News to me, but glad to hear it.

We've been away: here are my husband and I sitting in front of the fountain at Trafalgar Square, London, before going into the National Art Gallery there. Bernie commented that our National Gallery is better. For the collection, I agree: we have more contemporary art, sculpture, and First Nations stuff...but I must admit I sat in front of the Monet display in London for a long time, enjoying my favourite impressionist. There, I penned some short reflections, not worth submitting to publishers (although I am always surprised at what publishers like and don't I just keep sending out poems and getting surprises, sometimes good ones). Anyway, this would be the best place to share my thoughts-in-front-of-Monet, I guess.

in front of Monets

light falls on lilies in water.

the flowers, the artist long dead,
the bridge an arc above
light falling on lilies in water

long left behind.

does Monet still paint?

do lilies bloom again?

Iris sea of aqua light
Air is water
The breath of mauve
This happy turn to green

The bottom white corner
White canvas
Place of departure, or arrival.
Which way does the brush stroke?

Hidden in the depths
A little black paint
Can never be as visible
Or green, as blue as this:
still, there, it endures
and draws the dark eye of light.

This is how to paint
Willows: near an arced bridge
Under light, over water.

Any other dome
In any other water place
Could not be Venice

the hard muscle of remorse
melts to a bluegreen sea
in sight of watery paintings
so wet i can't feel weary
but fill my gaze upon
these salty memories
made fresh in meditations.

the soft light of sky
the gleam and glimmer
something worth feeling
below, in the drowning
swim of air, still light.