Wednesday, December 2, 2009

FreeVerse: When you drive the Queensborough roads at midnight (Ondaatje)

More Michael Ondaatje. I hope no one is getting bored yet. I just discovered this one in his collection The Cinnamon Peeler, which I am growing to love.

From The Cinnamon Peeler by Michael Ondaatje, published in 1989 by McLelland and Stewart:


When you drive the
Queensborough roads at midnight


do not look at a star
or full moon. Look out for frogs.
And not the venerable ones who recline
on gravel parallel to the highway
but the foolhardy, bored by a country night
dazzled by the adventure of passing beams.

We know their type of course, local heroes
who take off their bandanas and leap naked,
night green, seduced
by the whispers of michelin.

To them we are distinct death.
I am fond of these foolish things
more than the moon.
They welcome me after absence.
One of them is my youth
still jumping into rivers
take care and beware of him.

Knowing you love this landscape
there are few rules.
Do not gaze at moons.
Nuzzle the heat in granite.
Swim toward pictographs.
Touch only reflections.

4 comments:

Cara Powers said...

I'm definitely not sick of him. I read this poem 3 times. I'm pretty sure I'd find more if I kept reading it over and over again. Classic.

Jenners said...

Wow! This is wonderful. I love it. I love the timelessness of it and then the modern touches (Michelin). I love the imagery. I hope you keep on sharing Ondaatje poems if they are as good as this!

....Petty Witter said...

Definitely the type of poem I have to have read to me in order for me to appreciate it.

kiirstin said...

Thank you all for stopping by.

Cara - Yes, I know exactly what you mean. It keeps on growing on me, too.

Jenners - That's my plan, certainly. :) But I will try to find a few other authors, too. I also really love his incorporation of the modern with his imagery.

Petty Witter - It's not an easy one. I actually whispered it out loud to myself a couple of times -- "night green, seduced / by the whispers of michelin" actually *sounds* a bit like tires shushing by on a slightly damp road.