MINDER BEKENDE DIGTERS VAN CANUCKISTAN DEEL 1
Met “minder bekend” bedoel ek digters wat na my mening (vir wat dit werd is) nie so internasionaal gereken word as wat die geval behoort te wees nie, alhoewel hulle wel hier te lande hoog aangeslaan word. Dieselfde is ook (weereens, vir wat my mening werd is) die geval met sommige Afrikaanse digters maar dit nou daar gelaat. Jan Zwicky is inderdaad baie goed bekend in Kanada maar na die beste van my wete geniet sy nie juis internasionale erkenning nie. Sy is professor emerita in Filosofie (ek sal dit nie teen haar hou nie J) en skynbaar ‘n bedrewe violis. Ek het haar sonder sukses probeer kontak, dit kom my voor asof sy ‘n baie privaat persoon is.
Die “boom under the river ice” waarvan sy in Recovery skryf is die knars- en knalgeluide wat mens in die lente hoor wanneer die ys in die groot riviere begin smelt en reuse plate en brokke ys teen mekaar bots, opbreek en in die snel vloeiende water verder dryf. Die video (net ter inligting vir die wat nog nie so iets gesien het nie) gee ongelukkig nie die klank baie goed weer nie maar ek dink dit wys darem so min of meer hoe dit lyk: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=R1RhkrnV-qM
And when at last grief has dried you out, nearly
weightless, like a little bone, one day,
no reason in particular, the world decides to tug:
twinge under the breastbone, the sudden thought
you might stand up, walk to the door and
keep on going… And in the seconds following,
like the silence following the boom under the river ice, it all
seems possible, the egg-smooth clarity of the new-awakened,
rising, to stand, and walk… But already
at the edges of the crack, sorrow
starts to ooze, the brown stain spreading
and you think: there is no end to it.
But in the breaking, something else is given – not
that glittering jumble, shrieking and churning in the blind
centre of the afternoon,
but something else – a scent,
like a door flung open, a sudden downpour
through which you can still see the sun, derelict
in the neighbour’s field, the wren’s bright eye in the thicket.
As though on that day in August, or even July,
when you were first thinking of autumn, you remembered also
the last day of spring, which had passed
without your noticing. Something that easy, let go
without a thought, untroubled by oblivion,
a bird, a smile.
FIVE SONGS FOR RELINQUISHING THE EARTH
The rock weeps into its own whiteness
Sunny meadow slopes, the gentians,
the sun, too, tumbles down. A symphony
of spruce boughs sinks into the fiery moss.
Jewel-music, the amber roar of the falls.
No one thinks of home.
Waiting in the cool shadows,
we are dappled with hope.
Remember how the track swung out
around the cutbank in the full light of the moon?
In my dream.
I took off my rings then, my bracelets,
the gold locket
to stand bare-headed among the pines!
The fascination of water
is the laughter of geometry.
Wind plunges down the hillside:
a longing to embrace.
The mountain drifts in twilight.
When we draw the blinds at dusk
is the moment we most want to open
Delicacy of mule deer, the sharp
dry scent of spruce –
we have been grateful for the smallest kindnesses:
a shelf that holds up books, dry socks.
Rain streaks the windows of the cabin.
Of course, the earth once moved
on fragile stilts like theirs,
thought rolls down a crack, is lost.
A sky with holes, a desert
in the Amazon,
you, black stump, rigid in slash: –
mist writhes from the surface of the lake.
We are tired.
The wooden bowl is empty.
All night, arguments with strangers, dim
It is spring, the gullies are dry.
One makes camp in a rocky meadow
under a plain of stars.
The hands hold themselves in sleep then:
and the ears, the eyes, the tongue
in its dark cavern.
The mind walks alone to the horizon.
When it returns, its face will be white,
the compass will be broken
in its broken hand.
And when the tent flap flutters
in the windy dawn, where the heart lay
will be nothing.
There had been flooding all that summer, I recall
acres of grey-brown footage from the Midwest –
but with reports confined to property, and human interest,
the reasons for the land’s incontinence suppressed, those images
had skimmed past, seeming, as usual, not quite real.
The day had been hot, clear,
we’d eaten supper on the porch, and
later, quite late, had turned the radio on upstairs –
some thought of midnight news, perhaps –
I don’t remember now.
The signal we pulled in – strongly,
because we weren’t far from the border then –
was the last half-hour of a Brewers-Red Sox game.
It was coming from Milwaukee,
top of the ninth two out, the Brewers leading,
and we hadn’t been listening long when the announcer,
between a line out and hatcher’s
coming to the plate, commented on the weather:
there’d been a rain delay, it had been raining heavily before,
but now it was easing up, just a light shower falling,
though a lot of lightning was still visible to the east and south.
Raised on the prairies, I
could see it clearly, suddenly
could see the whole scene clearly:
the crowd dwindling, several
umbrellas, the glittering aluminum of vacated seats,
the misted loaf of arc-lit night, the night,
deeper by contrast, thick and wet and brown
around it, flickering.
And at the same time I was struck, too – like
looking out across a huge relief map – by the hundreds of miles
between our bedroom and Milwaukee, by that continental
distance, and was overtaken inexplicably
It was as though
in that moment of deep focus
I had tasted the idea of America.
As though it really might have had
something to do with baseball and radios and the beauty
of the storms that can form in the vast light above the plains – or,
no, extremity of some kind – clarity, or tenderness –
as though, that close to the end, levels
already rising on the leveed banks again,
the mistakes made might have been human:
not justifiable, but as though
some sort of story might be told, simply,
from defeat, without apology, the way you might describe
the fatal accident – not to make sense of it,
but just to say,
something had happened:
there was blood, blood everywhere, we hadn’t realised,
by the time we noticed, rivers of it,
nothing could be done.