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Saturday, January 29, 2011

Fast Day 191 January 29 2011 {Sweet Water}

Sweet Water
On Tassili rocks are petroglyphs
drawn by our ancient hands;
paint  a man at the end
of his vision quest here,
through old sahara’s palaeo-lakes:
his head exploding with
feathered sun and
wisdom’s kingly vipers!
Hey! Paint me here!
Show my wife, my clan!
Paint a halo round my head!
Hey! painter! Hey! friends!
I live forever
painted  in our
communal , polished
and granitic halls!

And when the weather began to change,
turn the lakes to sodden
sloughs, and thence to arid
wastes, then to vast empty
amphitheaters of tragedy,
penumbral seeking
populations in transit
from the fire genius:
Hey! Paint us here!
Show our clan’s procession!
Peaceable kingdom exodus.
Hey! Hand-blowers! Friends!
Visions and bison
our entourage
for new oases
we shall farm.

O, our lakes!
O, our lakes!
You are in our hearts!
Faithful water!
Ah, sweet water!

Tassili  = Tassili N’Ajjer mountains in southern Algeria

palaeo-lakes  =  “palaeo-“ from Greek meaning “old”; same as in “palaeology”.  The lakes of the Sahara region now gone.

polished…halls  =  an echo of the Odyssey, wherein Circe’s place has either “polished”, “painted”, or “sculpted”  halls…. ambiguity in the the Greek.

penumbral seeking  =  an exodus of the populace from the dry desert, seeking shade and water
peaceable kingdom exodus  =  humanity and animals escape the desert together under a truce of necessity

hand-blowers  = painters who blow pigmented powder around their hands which are pressing against a stone surface. When they remove their hands from the surface, there is a colored outline.

I have touched upon this theme many times recently. I think I see Climate as a vast spirit environment: the fire in which we burn.


Ruth said...

I've been thinking a lot the last few days about "The English Patient" and the scenes I love. Minghella so masterfully created the theme of borders, sand dunes like a woman's body, images of the petroglyphs on the walls of swimmers. That's what came to mind, then, from your beautiful poem.

"O, our lakes!" . . .

Montag said...

I remember the old swimmers distinctly. The sand dunes like the outlines of a body is a very good image, and I seemed to have missed it. I think I I shall have to see the film again.

I may turn the sound off this time, in order to focus on the imagery.

Ruth said...

It might make you cry.

Montag said...

I have to confess that when you said that it may make me cry, I immediately had the scene in my mind from Terminator 2 where Arnold Schwartznegger asks Edward Furlong's character why humans cry.

There. Just like Ms. Temple Grandin: I think in those images!
My wife is sighing, saying "You just now discovered you're autistic??!!"