Saturday, August 23, 2008

The Bestiary

Heather Ferguson Meditations on quotes from the Provençal Book of Beasts, early 12th century, translated by William M. Davis. (Quotes in quotation marks) 1. Cocks "The cock crows most often at vespers, before nightfall, and in the morning, before daybreak." Hush : breath rises and falls : gentle exhalation of mist. The pond darkly enfolds the dreamer. Fish glide through black depths, await their hour. Silver streaks throng and dart, brush over the sleeper. A faint blush on the rushes. Feathers gleam red and tawny. The cock flaps his wings. He catches the rim of the dawning sun and tosses it into the sky. Day is born. "And toward the middle of the night, he strengthens his voice, and sings later and clearer." Twilight. Mist settles over the pond. The water darkens and yields to silence, calm under the seamless weight ... As indigo turned to black, I thought I saw a sabre moon. Greenish staccato of fireflies. Hooting and shrieks. A pair of loons paddles by. Intersecting turbulance. Echos fill the unseizable grey of the thickened air. 2. Dragons "When the dragon finds someone sleeping, he poisons him with the tip of his tongue, while at other times he merely licks him to death." A thin ribbon flicks forth, scenting pulses. Homing in on a Morse code beamed through jungle. Reefs and beacons : moats and maidens. A waiting game. I watch the approach of this scaled life, claws scraping on raw ground. A seesaw heaving forward. Fine mosiac of hard skin, fractal fractures of green glitter, eggshells smashed underfoot. This is death: the quick flick of a black tongue, slow kisses covering me over. I dive through my dream, break through black, resurface under a pale moon. 3. Asses "The ass brays from hunger." A swayback pursues a circular course. Flesh presses against the yoke and the harness creaks in slow complaint. Gaunt ribs and small hooves. Powder chokes the air, opaque in the noon sun. Seed spills from a burlap bag. Is the world round? An edging of flour rims the stones. Evening approaches. The air clears. The ass tosses his head. The start of the journey fades from mind. "And the harder he works, the more he brays." Round and round the millstone. The earth whistles along its groove. The moon observes the dreams of men. Heavenly hosts clash in song, operatic and preordained. The ass continues apace. Around the world, clocks are wound by the beat of hooves. Cuneiform trodden in dust, a manifesto of peace. Spring arrives on time, and light finds a fleeting balance. The meek inherit the earth. The hosts struggle in blinding glory and part, divided and whole. Light focuses onto the earth with terrible purpose. The dreams of men are observed by the moon and relived the following year. 4. Wolves "When the wolf sees a man before the man sees him, he takes away his speech." In mid-summer, snow drifted down as I slept. My garden sank under soft mounds. Petals sparkled like bloodied crystal. Yellow eyes glowed in the shrubbery, waited. Mammals curled up in their dens. Slow breathing and untranslatable dreams. Goldfish circled under ice. The nights eerily bright. I traced words in the snow, clumsy and painful, as one numb to the core. Time sleeps; see how lightly it breathes, just like a child. The signs of the zodiac murmur in distant dialogue. Time shifts in and out of synch. Calendars and clocks. The earth slowly breaths. Consensus among points of light. I then saw through yellow eyes and gibbered under the stars. At full moon, chaos poured into my soul. A howl floated in night air. Newborns tumble onto snow, the white hair of age upon them. The sparkling crystals await the coming thaw. Tracks wind among the flowers. Bloody pawprints lead out of the garden. "But if the man sees the wolf first, the man takes away his strength." That night I saw a she-wolf howling under the pines. Astral lines arched through bluish air. The wolf licked my face and pawed my thighs. Green and red curtains of light brushed the earth. I drank deep from the crackling glow. Rough fur covered me over. I grew fangs. I devoured the flesh of roses and drank the blood of sunsets. I bore a cub with human eyes that recited poems at birth. A full moon and a crescent moon crossed the sky, arm in arm. We consulted the words of the prophets. Together we loped down ancient paths in search of the edge of the world. "The wolf's neck is so stiff that he cannot bend it." This wolf is old; he's lived 200 years. Feeling his age, he's on the road to Compostela. His fur sparkles with frost. Limping along, he gasps in the mountain air. The pilgrim's staff taps the ground with a steady beat. Reverberations strike the heart of the earth. An earthquake shakes China. Storm clouds roll out of the east in close formation. He asks a passer-by, how far to Compostela? Have you seen the light? Scallop shell on a pilgrim's cloak. The ridged shell radiates light, waves of foam. The Milky Way points to the sea. Can you hear the sea calling you to the edge of the world? "And whoever hunts the wolf, he leads him far from his den." Which is the hunter? The hunter's trail doubles back and loops into figure eights. The forest closes over. The universe shrinks to a stretch of woods. Yellow eyes watch from the shadows. A serpent eats its tail. The hunter approaches his own likeness. Time rewinds and life repeats. "When the wolf wishes to gain entrance to a courtyard, he walks very softly." A winter blizzard howls round a courtyard. A breeze curls under the gateway, slinking low. Snow swirls and subsides. Shadows engulf the colonnade. Yellow eyes watch as two men confer. A messenger leaves at full gallop. A scimitar moon hangs in the sky. "And when he makes a noise with his feet, he takes his foot, and bites it hard and firm, and thus takes vengence on himself." I drew my bow and shot my reflection through the heart. A numbness spread through me. A narcotic fragrance of aniseed pulsed through my veins. I fell into deep sleep. Dreams rose and fell in steady succession and flooded my heart. My torn flesh regrew as a wolf's heart. A network of pathways mapped itself in my veins. Vocabularies of howls echoed and lodged in my mind. I awoke one day in a busy city. The first snows drifted down. I grew impatient with worldly ways and headed into the woods. I denned under a sumac bush and watched it flame in the chill air. Small bunches of furry seed; feathery leaves. I picked up my pen to write till the coming of spring.

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Ottawa, Ontario, Canada
Canadá desde 1975, se inicia en los 60 en el Grupo América y la Escuela de Santiago. Sus libros de poemas son El evasionista/the Escape Artist (Ottawa, 1981); La calle (Santiago, 1986); The Witch (Ottawa, 1986); Tánger (Santiago, 1990); Tangier (Ottawa, 1997); A vuelo de pájaro (Ottawa, 1998); Vitral con pájaros (Ottawa; 2002) Reflexión hacia el sur (Saskatoon, 2004) y Cronipoemas (Ottawa, 2010) En prosa, la novela De chácharas y largavistas, (Ottawa, 1993). Es autor de la antología Northern Cronopios, antología de narradores chilenos en Canadá, Canadá, 1993. Tiene prosa, poesía y crítica en Chile, Estados Unidos, Canadá, México, Cuba, España y Polonia. En 2000 ganó el concurso de nouvelle de con El diario de Pancracio Fernández. Ha sido antologado por ejemplo en Cien microcuentos chilenos, de Juan Armando Epple; Latinocanadá, Hugo Hazelton; Poéticas de Chile. Chilean Poets. Gonzalo Contreras; The Changuing Faces of Chilean Poetry. A Translation of Avant Garde, Women’s, and Protest Poetry, de Sandra E.Aravena de Herron. Es uno de los editores de Split/Quotation – La cita trunca.

Instalación en la casa de Parra en Las Cruces

Instalación en la casa de Parra en Las Cruces
Chile, 2005, Foto de Patricio Luco. Se pueden ver en esta "Biblioteca mínima indispensable" el Manual de Carreño, el Manifiesto Comunista y Mi Lucha

Chile, 2005

Chile, 2005
Una foto con el vate Nicanor Parra, candidato al premio Nobel de Literatura