Metalanguage

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Metalanguage I

I wonder what I’m doing here, so far from home, sitting
at the bar, with my beer before me, my face distorted
in half a dozen esperpentic mirrors, surrounded by
people half my age, or less, all smoking, cursing, using
foreign forms of meta-language, gestures I no longer recall:
the single finger on the nose, two fingers on the forehead,
the back of the hand rammed against the chin with a sort
of snort of disapproval. It’s way beyond my bedtime; yet
I am held here, captured, body and soul, by foreign rhythms,
unreal expectations of a daily ritual that runs on unbroken
cycles of time: morning coffee, pre-lunch wine and tapas,
home for the mid-day meal, a brief siesta, back to the café
for a post-prandial raising of spirits, more coffee, then back
to work at four and struggle on until seven or eight when
the bar routine begins again with pre-supper tapas and wine.
Time, divorced from this cycle now lacks meaning.
Time within this cycle is meaningless too.

El Rincón
03 VIII 2005

Metalanguage II

I wonder what I’m doing here,
so far from home,
sitting at the bar, my beer before me,
my face distorted in half a dozen
fairground mirrors,
surrounded by people half my age,
or less, all smoking, cursing,
using foreign forms of meta-language,
gestures I no longer recall:
the single finger on the nose,
two fingers on the forehead,
the back of the hand rammed against the chin
with a sort of snort of disapproval.

It’s way beyond my bedtime;
yet I am held here,
captured, body and soul,
by foreign rhythms,
unreal expectations of a daily ritual
that runs on unbroken cycles of time:
morning coffee,
pre-lunch wine and tapas,
home for the mid-day meal,
a brief siesta,
back to the café for a post-prandial
raising of spirits,
more coffee,
then back to work at four
and I struggle on until seven or eight
when the bar routine begins again
with pre-supper tapas and wine.

Time,
divorced from this cycle
now lacks meaning.

Time
within this cycle
is meaningless too.

Idlewood
24 IX 2016

Black Angel

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I first saw the Black Angel in Aldebarán’s cultural store in Ávila (2006). She sat there, in the shop window, along with several other angels, and I worshiped her from the distance of the street. Her image was taken from an original painting from Rogier van der Weyden (1399/1400-1464). This was turned into a 3-D image and then converted into the statue I saw in the shop window.

I brought the statue back to Island View, placed it on the shelf above the fireplace, where it still rests, and wrote several poems on the theme of Angels. I gathered them together in a chapbook entitled All About Angels that I self-published in Fredericton in 2009. The chapbook was dedicated to Clare’s great-aunt, D. E. Witcombe who departed this world on October 15, 2008.

All About Angels was also based on a book of a similar title, Sobre los Ángeles, written by Rafael Albertí, one of the poets of Spain’s Generation of 1927. I avoided the ambiguity of the Spanish title — Sobre (in Spanish) can mean Above or Beyond as well as About — by limiting my own title to All About Angels.

For Carl Jung, angels are the messengers sent to inform people of the state of their world. For me, they are also the wild creatures that inhabit the world around me and often take the form of birds and other spiritual creatures. They can be best seen in those moments of solitude when we are most open to the natural world around us. Then, and sometimes only then, we can hear the urgent messages they bring.

 

Black Angel

You cannot hide
when the black angel comes
and knocks on your door.

“Wait a minute,” you say,
“While I change my clothes
and comb my hair.”

But she is there before you,
in the clothes closet,
pulling your arm.
You move to the bathroom
to brush your teeth.

“Now,” says the angel.
Your eyes mist over.

You know you are there,
but you can no longer see
your reflection in the mirror.

Angel Choir

(on seeing the Northern Lights at Ste. Luce-sur-mer)

listen to the choristers with their red and green voices
light’s counterpoint flowering across this unexpected son et lumière
we tremble with the sky fire’s crackle and roar

once upon another time twinned in our heavenly prisons
we surely flew to those great heights and hovered in wonderment
now our earthbound feet are rooted to the concrete
if only our hearts could sprout new wings and soar upwards together

the moon’s phosphorescent wake swims shimmering before us
the lighthouse’s fingers tingle up and down our spines
our bodies flow fire and blood till we crave light and yet more light
yet when the lights go out we are left in darkness

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 Croaking Angels

Their tunes are one note symphonies,
croaks of joy
moving their fellows to ecstasy,
exhorting them to share
the splendors of ditch life,
in a springtime bonding
that will loft them to the skies.

There’s an ancient magic in this calling:
love and laughter,
moonlight and water,
all the joyous things
one links with spring.

Moonlight swings its cheerful love lamp.
New leaves and buds are also known to sing.