Spring is here-though you would not think so from these photographs I took last Saturday. My Grandmother used to say that the month of March Comes in like a lion, leaves like a lamb. Or if it was sunny at the start of the month she would reverse the saying. This year March has been a lion.
I have been collaborating with Alison Wilson for a while now on a number of different projects that combine poetry with her amazing art work. Here are a couple of Haiku’s she asked me to write about leaves. Her aim was to produce some postcards for an art fair that had prints of leaves on them.
constantly in front of you
but you must see it
this leaf translates light
be it wave or particle
tree of life, tree of knowledge
theirs is beauty from
before brain or language
grew inside our heads
for it is all we can have
this eternal now
laugh, jump, sing, run, kiss
swim, hug, climb, play, touch, smile, love
celebrate this day
OK, there are more than a couple. Recently Alison has been in Mexico working and sending me some images and once more asking for words, this time related to Mexico
I had been reading around the subject and I came across a story of the time before the Mexica-as the Aztecs called themselves, dominated Central America. When they were mercenaries for the city states that succeeded the Toltec Empire, so the story goes, the leader of the Mexica asked the lord of one of the Toltec city states for his daughter in marriage. He agrees and the woman is sent to the Mexica.
Three days later the lord goes to celebrate the marriage of his daughter with the Mexica, but she is not there. Odd thinks the lord, then a priest appears wearing her skin. This was apparently viewed by the Mexica as an honour. Needless to say the lord was horrified and drove the Mexica away.
This is a disturbing, horrific image. I made me reflect on the Spanish conquest of Central America and all of the terrible things that were committed over the centuries. It seemed to me that the indigenous peoples had to wear the veneer, the skin if you like, of the coloniser in order to survive. That all expressions of their own culture would have to be covert; carried out behind the veil of the imposed culture.
That is the genesis of this poem. It has not title.
he wore her skin
the day her father called
there would be no celebration of marriage
just this priest
draped in his daughters flayed flesh
button on repeat
there would be other skins
survival camouflage that enabled them
to craft Christ’s imbued
with the full horror of their wounds
none of this is what it seems
I would like your thoughts on this poem.
To end on a more joyous note here is Astrud Gilberto and Stan Getz playing It Might as Well Be Spring.
I cannot flag up Brazilian music without mentioning the late great Elis Regina, one of the best singers I have ever heard. Here she is singing The Waters of March with Tom Jobim. Enjoy.
Have a good week.