Tonight's poem is by Michael Ondaatje. It's in his book of wonderful stuff called The Cinnamon Peeler, which came out in 1991, a year before his novel The English Patient made him much more famous. His memoir Running in the Family has long been one of my favorites in that genre. Here's the poem:
TRANSLATIONS OF MY POSTCARDS
the peacock means order
the fighting kangaroos meant madness
the oasis means I have struck water
positioning of the stamp -- the despot's head
horizontal, or 'mounted policemen'.
mean political danger
the false date means I
am not where I should be
when I speak of the weather
I mean business
a blank postcard says
I am in the wilderness
Michael Ondaatje, The Cinnamon Peeler, Vintage Books, 1991, page 168.
I have been thinking a lot about mail: the real kind with a stamp on it, that you can crush in your hand, answer with mail of your own, put in an album, burn, deface or tie into a packet with colored ribbon, or just some silly old used string. I have made many cards and postcards with my photos, but I rarely send one now. Just yesterday I found a packet of stamps that I had mislaid and this enables me to create and send mail virtually without cost, since I have all the supplies ready to hand. But lately this isn't really that much fun since one often gets no reply. I joined an art postcard swap a couple of years ago, and enjoyed it, but . . . there was a quality of coercion to it, sort of like a daily walk for exercise if you know what I mean. Speaking of daily walks, I slept very well last night after my long walk at Sturgeon Bay. I was pretty slow on that walk and know I should walk more. We shall see. . .