Welcome from Amy D. Unsworth

Language, Literature, Learning & Life.




You Can See God Going to the Islands

You Can See God Going to the Islands
by Amy Unsworth

Where else but walking on sand and water
the last splinter of perfection, the crescent
edge of Bunut Bay, flip-flops in hand?

Or in Bolivia waiting patiently on the boardwalk
at Calacala, to see the paintings on the rising rocks,
one white llama surrounded by the red herds?

Further South the next week, among chinstrap penguins,
stepping gingerly over the clutches tucked in the rocks.
He smiles as they dive, bodies suddenly lissome, into the sea.

A day or two in Turkey visiting the springs at Pamukkale,
resting his feet in the thermal pools, touring the ruins and
recollecting the pillared architecture of Rome.

Maybe then, a few stops to admire the streaked and spotted
gazelle, giraffe, hyena and the scrawny cattle of the savanna;
to wade the Nile winding its way across the continent.

No place but then to return to the hillside gardens,
to inhale the once familiar scent of night air in Jerusalem,
the first almonds hastening to bloom.


from The New Pantagruel

7 comments:

firstcitybook said...

Since you mention welcoming comments on your poems, I think your poem is quite lovely in its description of exotic locales. Even so, I think the God you refer to is awful lucky to find such pristine locations. You might consider making this poem, or another one exploring the same subject, political by addressing the destruction of the environment. Edward Abbey, for example, says that the role of a writer is to disturb the status quo.

Amy Unsworth said...

Hello,

Isn't the fact that the last pristine beach is incredibly inacessible already addressing that it is almost impossible to find a corner of the world untouched?

Amy Unsworth said...

And yes, thank you for visiting and commenting.

And how directly can one address the destruction of the environment without being didactic?

Even these exotic locales are being encroached upon; there's a massive boardwalk leading the tourist to the rock art, penguins are effected by pollution even at their remote location, etc.

Best,
Amy

firstcitybook said...

I wouldn't expect you to be didactic, Amy. Jonathan Holden, in paraphrasing Frost, would caution you against directness, preferring instead that you tell something aslant, which is another one of expressing how meaning can be made subtly, often through metaphor. Changes can be made as simply as adding an adjective like "last," referring to God looking for an extinct species, or through the description of a locale which now floods at high tide because of the rising seawater.

firstcitybook said...

Excuse the typo. I'm in the midst of getting new glasses.

I wouldn't expect you to be didactic, Amy. Jonathan Holden, in paraphrasing Frost, would caution you against directness, preferring instead that you tell something aslant, which is another way of expressing how meaning can be made subtly, often through metaphor. Changes can be made as simply as adding an adjective like "last," referring to God looking for an extinct species, or through the description of a locale which now floods at high tide because of the rising seawater.

firstcitybook said...

One last Comment, I swear, Amy:

I'm not trying to tell you what to do, but I can picture a companion poem which is darker. In a manuscript, it could be possible to have the two poems appear side by side, for instance. The darker poem would play with the metaphor of almonds in the concluding lines after God has looked for lost species and found environmental damage and, once returning to Jerusalem, hears gunfire and car bombs--all the more reason to breathe in the smell of almonds once returning home. A Marxist critic would say that every poem is political; it isn't necessary to write outwardly political poems all of the time, however. I just think that events today force one to become more politically aware and that some poems need to reflect that awareness.

Amy Unsworth said...

Hello again,

I understand what you're saying, and I wondered how much I could expect the reader to bring to the poem. (Would the reader know that the rock art in Bolivia is now tourist spot? Do most readers know that Jerusalem is overrun with not only people in conflict but also a huge tourist/pilgrimage destination.) But, if the reader can't bring this information to the poem, then it won't be successful in conveying what I wished it would.

And while I am not an overtly political poet, it is rather impossible to write and not be in some way political. And like you mention, this is a rather subtle take on it. I have other poems that do more fully address politcal concerns, but they're just not here on the blog!