A THIEF OF IMPECCABLE TASTE
Un ladrón de impeccable buen gusto
Glen Sorestad is ŉ prêriedigter van Saskatoon wie se verse ek al voorheen geplaas het. Sy jongste twee publikasies is ŉ sakboekie Along Okema Road en dan bogenoemde bundel wat verlede jaar op die rakke verskyn het met die Engelse gedigte op een bladsy en die Spaanse vertaling op die teenoorgestelde bladsy. Die vertalings is gedoen deur Manuel de Jesús Velásquez León, lektor in “Studies van die Engelssprekende Kulture” aan die universiteit José de la Luz y Caballero in Kuba.
Die Thief bevat ŉ voorwoord deur die vertaler, ŉ taamlike lang een om die waarheid te sê, dus sal ek net enkele sinne uit die eerste twee paragrawe aanhaal” “Generally, (Sorestad) lets the words find their own way through the woods, blazing their own trail, up to the hidden clearing of light, the unexpected spot of finding and conception. Once there, the solid power of the poet makes creation endure.”
“The first surprising thing… is that scenes are illuminated by a luminescence that comes from understanding. The lens that visualizes his world is not myopic. Maybe that is why the poetic reconstruction of what has been lived is impeccable, faultless. The plots of reality offered to scrutiny sometimes reveal niches of an almost painful naturalism. One may feel the wintery cold alienation of those earthly artifacts that just seem to be there. Nevertheless there are conducting wires among the objects, underground connecting tunnels providing sense to the structures. In that way, a universe of indifferent, almost astral nakedness is coloured by hope.”
Soos dit teen hierdie tyd waarskynlik vir almal duidelik behoort te wees, Sorestad is nie ŉ hermetiese digter nie. Trouens, ek het tot op hede nog nie ŉ hermetiese prêriedigter teengekom nie. Sorestad se gedigte is vir my kenmerkend van die prêries en prêriedigkuns waarvoor my vrou Lesli en ek lief geword het.
Die bundel het ŉ rustige toonaard, ŉ dikwels mediterende kyk na die prêries en sy mense, sy vriende en na die lang verhouding tussen hom en sy vrou. Dit is dan ook Sorestad se eggenote wat via die digter aan die woord is in The Thief Reflects.
Sometimes I am shaken
by a desire to return
to that child I was –
endless days under a vast sky,
sun omnipresent as the mongrel
that dogged my footsteps.
A half-century and more
removed, I remember each day
bloomed wonder. Never bored,
I did not realise how poor
we were, having so much.
On second thought, it’s possible
my retrospective vision is
blurred, selectively smudged.
Perhaps it is our nature to hold
hard to what causes least pain?
To indulge moments of nostalgia
is bo act of foolishness. Though
time past will not return,
we still can marvel
at the road we’ve travelled,
at the one that lies ahead.
Bullets of snow blast the polished casket poised
in funeral home harness above the open grave.
Mourning family huddled close to one another,
drawn snug to the living, their backs buffeted
by hard gusts. Needles of ice probe napes of neck.
Vestments aflutter, numb-fingered, the priest
clings to his prayer book, while manic wind worries
the pages, snatches words, scatters them like flakes.
At the graveside slim fingers of snow writhe,
curl over and descend, while others leap the chasm.
Last words said, family, one by one, step to the fore,
red rose each – this final act of love and letting go.
The casket lowered, everyone turns away. Wind blows
mourners to cars. Left behind – red roses and snow.
THE THIEF REFLECTS
Tell me, what have
I stolen from you
that you have missed?
Surely you know
I have taken only
you would have shed
without my help.
I can in no way be
dismissed as common
thief, nor as cheap
trickster. You must
agree I am a thief
of impeccable taste:
I did choose you.
SMALL AND FEATHERED
Through my cabin window
needled branches interlace
against a splash of sky.
A fidgety Tree Sparrow
perches on the drooping
finger of spruce for a moment,
adding an apprehensive note
to a subdued backdrop
or trees and sky.
The bird frets its way
along the thin bone of spruce,
stops a moment,
and I wonder
what thoughts, if any,
run through its mind
this splendid morning?
Exorbitant gas prices?
Not an iota. Nor taxes,
nor promises unkept.
But surely every small bird
must, from time to time,
cease its song to reflect
on the precariousness
of being small
and feathered in a world
that prizes neither.
EMMA LAKE VESPERS
I am curious
to see whether
that paper birch
just enough breeze
if only for a moment,
within its cup
the dropping sun.
The evidence lies everywhere. Grains of sand.
Our day are lost in the trivia of meetings,
appointments, To-Do lists, post-it notes stuck
to cupboard doors where we can’t miss them,
magneted to the refrigerator door like commandments,
or posted like tearful pleas for lost kittens,
terse reminders how our lives have become
a musical score of comings and leavings,
the sound and voices of calendars and daybooks.
We ignore the image – the bottom half,
its increasing sand. It is funerals we attend
with growing frequency that give us pause,
make us feel the measure, the urgency,
the anticipatory drum roll.
Beat by beat, grain by grain.
remembering John Newcombe
What we want from the start,
most of us, is never little.
Our dreams, our desires
seldom come as miniatures.
Our appetites are rapacious,
our lusts loom mountainous.
Time erodes them all –
dreams, desires, appetite, lust.
Floating dust motes in our lives.
Little becomes its own desire,
its own measure. Little will do.
It is little, but it is little enough.*
*Hierdie laaste reël kom uit ŉ gedig van John Newlove (1938-2003), ŉ vriend van Sorestad. Newlove het om dit saggies te stel ŉ stormagtige lewe gehad, meestal weens sy verslawing aan alkohol. Die gedig waaruit Sorestad aanhaal bevat tot ŉ groot mate outobiografiese materiaal en omdat dit vir my ŉ treffende gedig is plaas ek dit graag.
THEN, IF I CEASE DESIRING
Then, if I cease desiring,
you may a sing a song
of how young I was.
You may praise famous moments,
all of them, of the churches
I broke into for wine,
not praise, the highways
I travelled drunkenly
in winter, the cars I stole.
You may allow me moments,
not monuments, I being
content. It is little,
but it is little enough.
Enkele gedigte uit die pas gepubliseerde Along Okema Road.
EARLY MORNING OWL
I was awakened about five this morning
by the persistent calling of an owl.
I don’t know whether it was horned or barred,
grey or white, long-eared or earless –
I did not see the owl at all.
it seemed to call straight to me through
the open window of the cabin.
Was it an omen? I ask myself this now,
later in the day when the hooting returns
to resonate loudly inside my mind.
I’d rather not see this as an omen or premonition.
Nothing in the articulation or tone made me
think for a moment it was my name
on the creature’s tongue, nor that the bird
intended its message just for me. Perhaps if I
was of the Pacific Coastal people of the rainforest
who link the call of the owl with impending death,
I would be predisposed to view such a visitation
as a dark precursor, enough to set every nerve
on edge – but I don’t see it that way at all,
perhaps because I regard myself as one who resists
absolutes of most belief systems. Show me.
But then, but then…
If I am recalling this early awakening
with accuracy and not creating specifics
in the aftermath of the creature’s presence,
something any writer might well incline to do,
I seem to remember the owl hoo-hooed at me
from different locations at different times,
spokes on a wheel, the hub being the cabin
where I lay, my eyes looking out a skylight
at the morning light, my eyelids still heavy
with slumber as if they ere weighted down
beneath a pair of large George V pennies.
FOUR AMERICAN POETS WHO NEVER VISITED EMMA LAKE, BUT IF THEY HAD…
Rain comes along
with a soft-soled shuffle
on the cabin roof,
stays a short while,
then moves on.
Something want saying about this spruce –
The homely, forlorn way its limbs droop
As if the Creator had been playing fast and loose
With its upward-reaching arms. A somber troop –
These conifers, ramrod straight, refuse to stoop.
William Carlos Williams
So much depends
upon a green luggage cart
with four rubber wheels
waiting in the parking lot
empty and expectant
alongside a black spruce
Brother Wind, what news today?
Stop a moment in your turning
of birch leaves and speak to me
of all those places you have been.
Perhaps you will recall a house,
abandoned on the gritty plain,
the gathering dust, shreds of hearts
still clinging there, including mine.