Saturday, September 06, 2014

The red, red maple

Not yet; this was last year's October. I saw this tree growing with another when it wasn't as tall as I was. Because it was such a beautiful color, I cut the other one away years ago. Now this red beauty is really shooting up and will soon be taller than the Scotch pine it grew up under. The young maple sprouted at the edge of a large cobble, which now rests on its foot-root.

How the Late Autumn Night Novel Begins

The ferry-boat smells of oil and something rattles all the time like an obsession. The spotlight's turned on. We're pulling in to the jetty. I'm the only one who wants off here. "Need the gangway?" No. I take a long tottering stride right into the night and stand on the jetty, on the island. I feel wet and unwieldy, a butterfly just crept out of its cocoon, the plastic bags in each hand are misshapen wings. I turn round and see the boat gliding away with its shining windows, then grope my way towards the familiar house which has been empty for so long. There's no one in any of the houses round about... It's good to fall asleep here. I lie on my back and don't know if I'm asleep or awake. Some books I've read pass by like old sailing ships on their way to the Bermuda triangle to vanish without a trace... .I hear a hollow sound, an absentminded drumming. An object the wind keeps knocking against something the earth holds still. If the night is not just an absence of light, if the night really is something, then it's that sound. Stethoscope noises from a slow heart, it beats, goes silent for a time, comes back. As if the creature were moving in a zigzag across the Frontier. Or someone knocking in a wall, someone who belongs to the other world but was left behind here, knocking, wanting back. Too late. Couldn't get down there, couldn't get up there, couldn't get aboard... The other world is this world too. Next morning I see a sizzling golden-brown branch. A crawling stack of roots. Stones with faces. The forest is full of abandoned monsters which I love.

Tomas Transtromer
The Great Enigma; new collected poems, 
translated by Robin Fulton, New Directions, 2006

I can still remember the night Robert Hass brought the poems of Tomas Transtromer to the evening poetry seminar at San Jose State. Knocked, as they say, my socks off! I've been nuts about Transtromer ever since; just nuts!

And afterward I wrote a prose poem for class, which, since it took place on the Santa Cruz Boardwalk in the daytime I called: "How the Late Autumn Novel Begins." I just found a copy of this poem, which I had stored in "the cloud" and I still like it enough to send it out. Although I ought to just post it here and not wait for the Sixth Extinction. But I am too tired to decide, having just finished preliminary work on our haiku anthology--so proud of myself.

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