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Tuesday, August 05, 2008

Letter to America















Saw a wedge-tailed eagle in the wild the other day. It started by circling another one on the ground, then dive-bombed it a couple of times before sitting sulking very high up in a branch, waiting for its rival to depart, which it duly did.

Which reminds me to mention Helen Macdonald’s book Shaler’s Fish, which it took this trip to Australia for me to discover, at Kris Hemensley’s incomparable Collected Works bookshop on Swanston Street here in Melbourne. Macdonald’s book has to be one of the best published by an English poet in the last fifteen years, let me opine, confidently sidestepping any hyperbole. Here are the beautiful last three stanzas of ‘letter to america’:

& you were scraping the ice from the leading edge a.m.
printing an image of the mansions of the dead a.m.
looking for a small world in the uninhabited air
trying to extinguish some deeper desire for fire

with something as cold and as hard and as temporary as flight
& what you were hoping is that the air would recolonise you
recognize you and welcome you into the sunlight
and all would be forgiven. ink in the thick air would curl

into glyphs of desire & the lightly starred heel
would dip into the sea at dawn as it spoils
into a blaze of mute objects
in the pure suburban heavens

3 comments:

ASTADIGGAJAS said...

Any news on my wolf spiders? If they're proving hard to find, a Sugar Glider or Numbat will do.

Ey, you're missing it all over here. Last weekend, Amanda Sellors and Chris Green from Bridlington got married dressed as clowns. According to the Hull Daily Mail, "they hope to honeymoon later this year and will live together in Filey."

Oh, and apparantly the boutiques of Swanland are now the official shopping zone of the - wait for it - Tigers WAGS.

Truly, if you don't recognise the place upon your return, you'll not be blamed.

Background Artist said...

I can go along with this theoretically opined projection W, with the caveat that this is entirely open to change, and next week, year, life, i may recant it, should a more spiritually profitable position wrought itself to consciousness.

Like you (i mean myself really) when first reading, we bring our entire learning and experience to bear upon the text, and luckily (in the sense i am a jealously competitive ed-bore) I was drawn to intervene as an editor and make small but significant textual tweaks in order to feel good about myself as an eye whose i is the I of lyrical love and on which lies abundant speared points of almost imperceptible flab...come, let us slash this specimen armed only with a detached I, disinterested in posturing to the gods..

(cut out a few that, as the etc and changed fire-desire and a few others, so --

& you were scraping the ice from the leading edge a.m.

printing an image of the mansions of the dead a.m.

looking for a small world in the uninhabited air
trying to extinguish some fire

with something cold and hard
temporary as the desire

you were hoping was air
that would recolonise you

recognize and welcome you
into sunlight

where all is forgiven
ink in the thick air curling

into glyphs & a lightly starred heel dipped into the sea at dawn
as it spoils into a blaze of mute flight in a pure suburban heaven

Anonymous said...

take a looook at the railraod, from miami to canada!