Friday, April 13, 2007
from (one of my all-time favorite writers, meaning those from whom I've learned--appreciated--much, & not least in terms philosophical and/or in multiple-competing perspectives)
At the Tourist Center in Boston
There is my country under glass,
a white relief-
map with red dots for the cities,
reduced to the size of a wall
and beside it 10 blownup snapshots
one for each province,
in purple-browns and odd reds,
the green of the trees dulled;
all blues however
of an assertive purity.
Mountains and lakes and more lakes
(though Quebec is a restaurant and Ontario the empty
interior of the parliament buildings),
with nobody climbing the trails and hauling out
the fish and splashing in the water
but arrangements of grinning tourists--
look here, Saskatchewan
is a flat lake, some convenient rocks
where two children pose with a father
and the mother is cooking something
in immaculate slacks by a smokeless fire,
her teeth white as detergent.
Whose dream is this, I would like to know:
is this a manufactured
hallucination, a cynical fiction, a lure
for export only?
I seem to remember people,
at least in the cities, also slush,
machines and assorted garbage. Perhaps
that was my private mirage
which will just evaporate
when I go back. Or the citizens will be gone,
run off to the peculiarly-
to wait among the brownish mountains
for the platoons of tourists
and plan their odd red massacres.
window lady, I ask you:
Do you see nothing
watching you from under the water?
Was the sky ever that blue?
Who really lives there?
* The (I've so very limited book supplies here!) Norton Anthology of Poetry. Margaret Ferguson et al, eds. (NY, 2005)
On flipping through 300+ pages of the NAofP, I find this one poem a seemingly quiet but immensely loaded piece of work. Therefore, a most admirable work. --cm