Pieter Odendaal. Mario Petrucci: Homo Universalis

Ek het nog altyd gedink dat ek die Renaissance sou kies as ek in enige tydperk in die geskiedenis kon leef. Dit was die goeie ou dae toe jy in die oggend aan die Mona Lisa se glimlag kon werk (moet die mond ‘n bietjie boontoe of ondertoe krul?), helikopters in die middag kon ontwerp en in die aand skelm lyke kon gaan opgrawe om meer oor jou eie anatomie te leer. Dit was ‘n tyd van bruisende opgewondenheid oor die mens se potensiaal om homself uit sy omstandighede úít te dink. Goed, jy’t ‘n lewensverwagting van 40 gehad en gedink dat die son die middelpunt van die heelal was, maar nietemin. Waar is die vervloeë dae toe ons min genoeg van die wêreld en onsself geweet het dat dit moontlik was om ‘n grondige kennis van alles te hê?

Mario Petrucci

As gevolg van hierdie (ietwat naïewe) nostalgie, is die Brit Mario Petrucci ‘n man so na my hart. Hy’t ‘n doktorsgraad in opto-elektronika, ‘n nagraadse kwalifikasie in omgewingstudies, hy’t al Catullus en Sappho vertaal, was vir ‘n tyd lank ‘n one-man band op die Paryse Metro en hy’s ‘n fantastiese digter. In ‘n tyd waar die Sokals en Derridas vir mekaar grom en soms selfs handgemeen raak, sien Petrucci geen dichotomie tussen die wetenskap en poësie nie. Vir hom is beide dissiplines menslike, en daarom ook feilbare, pogings om onsself en ons plek in die kosmos te verstaan. Het ek al gesê dat ek van Petrucci hou?

Petrucci is allermins een van daardie wetenskaplikes wat ‘n onkritiese godsdiens van die wetenskap maak. Hy is ook geïnteresseerd in die sosiale implikasies van die wetenskap en die gevare wat dit inhou. Sy epiese gedig, Heavy Water, is byvoorbeeld ‘n navrante ondersoek na die Chernobyl-ramp in 1986. Dié gedig het ook as inspirasie vir die film Heavy Water: A film for Chernobyl gedien. Uittreksels uit die film kan hier gesien word. 

The room

(Chernobyl, 1986)  

This hospital has a room

for weeping. It has no crèche.
No canteen. No washroom queue.

Only this queue for weeping.
No lost property booth. No

complaints department. Or
reception. No office of second

opinion. Of second chances. Its sons
and daughters die with surprise

in their faces. But mothers
must not cry before them. There is

a room for weeping. How hard
the staff are trying. Sometimes

they use the rooms themselves. They
must hose it out each evening. 

The State is watching. They made
this room for weeping. No remission – 

no quick fixes. A father wonders
if his boy is sleeping. A mother 

rakes her soul for healing. Neighbours
in the corridor – one is screaming

It moved from your child to mine. 
More come. Until the linoleum

blurs with tears and the walls
are heaving. Until the place can’t

catch its breath – sour breath
of pine. And at its heart

this room.

 

 © 2004, Mario Petrucci
Uit: Heavy Water: a poem for Chernobyl 

Petrucci is ook vir ‘n tyd lank die residensiële digter in die Imperial War Museum in Engeland gewees. Sy oorlogsgedigte onthul ‘n etiese bemoeienis met die onverstaanbare afgryslikhede van oorloë:

The confession of Borislav Herak

(Herak was tried in 1992 for war crimes committed against Moslems in and around Sarajevo. The Sonja Cafe was an improvised prison for Moslem women, frequented by Herak.) 

When I joined the nationalist volunteers
they gave me a woman, a television and video.
At the Sonja Cafe, Miro took me to the women.
Emina, Sabina, Amela, Fatima – we had them all.
There were always more arriving. It was easy.

You just picked up a key and went to a room.
I remember Fatima. A nice woman – 
about thirty years old. We gave her tea.
Me and Miro took her in the car. Later
we stopped by a small bridge and I told her

to get out. She walked about three steps
from us, with her back to me – she did not turn – 
and I shot her. I went to her just to be sure.
In the torchlight, something pink slid
from just above her neck. She did not move.

*

I helped to carry the thirty men
from Donja Bioca, the holes in their chests
rimmed with purple. We swung them, arms and legs,
into the incinerator. Even within the flames
some of them moved. One even turned

his head, looked at me.
I remember most the little girl in red
at Ahatovici. Her brothers and sisters, aunts
and friends, all shuffled backwards, made
little cries, before we fired.

*

One day, Sreten took me to the compound.
He showed me how to wrestle pigs to the ground
hold their heads back by their ears
and slit their throats. It was easy.

Sreten is sixty-five. Next day we tried it again
on three prisoners. It was just a short cut – 
and they were dead. They did not squeal.
They just gurgled through the black slots

above the small of their chests. Here.
They did not squeal, like pigs. 
Except Osman. I have pictures 
in my mind, and they return each night.

Osman, whose throat I cut, he is always
there. He says – Please don’t kill me
I have a wife and two small children. Please.
He speaks through the wound. 

*

Now there are trials. Many words, journalists
with their microphones. I am on the television. 
They will stand me in front of a wall
and shoot me. My father is ashamed. I say – 

That’s OK old man, you just stay and wait
for the shells to kill you. I tell the priest – 
If there were a God, I would not have been
caught. I am sorry. I did what I did.

You would have done the same.

 

© 1996, Mario Petrucci
Uit: Shrapnel and Sheets

Die volgende gedig oor evolusie, die groot gelykmaker, laat my dink aan die eerste strofe van Opperman se “Negester en Stedelig”:

everyone begins as fish &

ends so – spiralling after
egg (that other half of our
chains) & setting gills

in gristled knot that buds
legs as tadpoles do & blow-
hole ears halfway down

the back & low-set eye
alien as featherless chick –
ah we have peered into

that shared ovum whose
blasto-flesh runs its gauntlet
of fowl & fish so fused at

the tail nothing can be told
apart – is this why when i am
late i find in upstairs dark

you – on placenta duvet &
hunched round self as wom-
bed ones are? – as though

i had just returned from
all eternity to catch you
naked   out   sleepwalking

space without even
navel-twisted purpled
rope to hold you

 

© 2010, Mario Petrucci
Uit: i tulips

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Een Kommentaar op “Pieter Odendaal. Mario Petrucci: Homo Universalis”

  1. Louis :

    Jimmel, Pieter, wat ‘n skitterende digter! Tot my skaamte moet ek erken dat ek nog nooit van hom gehoor óf gelees het nie … Summier bestel ek alles beskikbaar (en bekostigbaar) vir die winkel.
    Dankie vir dié bekendstelling.
    Louis

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