Monday, January 20, 2014

Madison Buffalo Jump State Park in the distance

Near Bozeman on Highway 90, traveling west through this stunningly beautiful landscape, I saw this wonderful cloud in the deep-blue sky and, from the car, caught just part of it with my iPhone. Now I can see the mesa-topped butte on the horizon, and wonder if it is part of this buffalo-jump park shown on Google. Anyway, I am imagining a buffalo-jump there and am glad no one does this any more, even if it was "an efficient means of slaughter." Of course, I would have prepared and eaten the dried buffalo meat and slept warm in buffalo skins like everybody else in my tribe, if I had been there. Sometimes, where your food comes from and how it gets to you and who or what is damaged in the process, probably can and mostly must be ignored. Everything has ramifications. . .

Tonight, again we have a poem by Adam Zagajewski, translated by Clare Cavanaugh. It was reprinted in the book Poet's Choice, by Edward Hirsch, which I described here. It is on pages 105 and 106.

A Quick Poem

I was listening to Gregorian chants
in a speeding car
on a highway in France.
The trees rushed past. Monks' voices
sang praises to an unseen god
(at dawn, in a chapel trembling with cold).
Domine, exaudi orationem meam,
male voices pleaded calmly
as if salvation were just growing in the garden.
Where was I going? Where was the sun hiding?
My life lay tattered 
on both sides of the road, brittle as a paper map.
With the sweet monks
I made my way toward the clouds, deep blue,
heavy, dense,
toward the future, the abyss,
gulping hard tears of hail.
Far from dawn, far from home,
In place of walls--sheet metal.
Instead of a vigil--a flight.
Travel instead of remembrance.
A quick poem instead of a hymn.
A small, tired star raced
up ahead
and the highway's asphalt shone,
showing where the earth was,
where the horizon's razor lay in wait,
and the black spider of evening
and night, widow of so many dreams.

Think about writing your own poem based on a long drive. Notice how Zagajewski effectivly varies the line lengths. Perhaps you will mention a feature of the landscape, or something you are listening to (or switching off) on the radio. Think about the difference between sheet metal and live things, like spiders and trees. Think about hope and despair. Think about how we are preserving the buffalo, almost extirpated by our own mighty hunters. Think about a quick poem. Sleep well.

No comments:

Post a Comment