Posts Tagged ‘Newfoundland’

Here’s one for Tim

April 2nd, 2011

When friend and web site designer extraordinaire Tim Twinam sent me an email saying he liked my last post, I realized that I’ve been blogging for a year and this is the first time that anybody has written in to comment on the poetry.  Ironic, considering that a book of poetry is the raison d’etre of this site!  Along with that realization came another – although I allow myself to feel a mild disappointment at the silence which greets verse, I don’t really expect anything different.  Story of my life – it’s like a taboo subject.  Perhaps it’s because the poems are so awful there is no polite response, but I don’t really believe that.  Most likely, nobody feels qualified to say something.  Except for pop songs, television, movies, and video games, art is something our culture has walled off from daily life.  We have lost the habit of responding to a poem as if it were an intelligible statement about something of mutual interest, part of a conversation.  Not an altogether unjustified reaction, since so much modern poetry has given up on that, too.

Grouse, grouse, grouse.

Okay, Tim, at least you’re willing to talk, bless you.  So… yeah, I find Canada’s Maritimes to be pretty damn numinous.  A few years ago my son and I went on a trip to Newfoundland.  The purpose was to visit Anse aux Meadows, the site of the first known European settlement in the New World, dating to five hundred years before Columbus.  Newfoundland is a giant island shaped like an “L”, and Anse aux Meadows is at the top.  It’s a long way up.  On the road there, we passed through Gros Morne National Park.  In the park is an area called the Tablelands.  A mile’s hike from the road one enters a long ravine or narrow valley between towering, barren, brownish rock cliffs.  The rocks are hundreds of millions of years old, formed (if I understand correctly) by one continental plate sliding under another and forcing the earth’s mantle up.  It was a chilly afternoon with rapidly moving clouds.  I had the place to myself, and stood for a long time in that desolate, ancient valley, beside the little stream that runs down its center.  Returning to the car, where Isaac was napping, I encountered a rock in the middle of the path.  I was certain it had not been there before, but I could not imagine how it got there during the hour since I’d passed.  It is about the size and shape of a human heart, salmony brown with grey veins.  There’s a story of a shaman who was asked if he could talk to the stones, and he answered, “The trick is knowing which ones.”  I felt that this stone definitely had something to say to me.  It wanted to hitch a ride.  I hesitated, because I was unsure what I was inviting into my life, but it is hard to argue with a stone.  It’s sitting in my living room right now, and I am waiting for the day when I have learned how to listen to it.

Tablelands, Newfoundland

I have seen my mother’s bones,
naked, shattered, immense,
and the waters threading down them
braided at my feet
and rushed through the rubble
calling loudly