This poem has never been my favorite, but I like the imagery: “the island Iceland in a blind fog”. It reminds me so much of driving in the north of Iceland with my friend A, returning from the Verslunarmannahelgi weekend in Akureyri, driving back to Reykjavik in the middle of the night, creeping along, blind, through the thickest fog I’ve ever experienced.
I especially love how the poem closes on a geyser, a word we have co-opted into and mispronounce in English. One of the few words we take from Icelandic but didn’t bother to take its original pronunciation.
After all, what have I become?
The island Iceland in a blind fog.
Gliding in the far north.
I swim in mushy ice-water.
An ice-barrier surrounds me,
to protect me?
protect from what?
What boils in me darkly,
bubbling, swirling upward,
melting my thick cover:
the firmament may blanche
while being sliced upward to its lap
by a foaming, vapor-tressed head
ragingly crying: the geyser.
From a man of legendary, award-winning soup and unfathomable amounts of kale, I received spinach kisses, which suddenly reminded me of this poem (“chlorophyll kiss” came to mind immediately) from Michael Ondaatje.
Best known for The English Patient, Ondaatje has so much more to offer. Even if for me I have many lovely memories connected to The English Patient, such as seeing the film alone – I went alone and also was the only person in the cinema – on Thanksgiving Day 1996, knowing from the very first moment that I would be drawn in (thanks to the striking sounds of Muzsikás‘s “Szerelem, szerelem“). Or camping on my friend Kimberley’s couch in Auckland in 1999 and reading her copy of the book.
Notes For The Legend Of Salad Woman
Since my wife was born
she must have eaten
the equivalent of two-thirds
of the original garden of Eden.
Not the dripping lush fruit
or the meat in the ribs of animals
but the green salad gardens of that place.
The whole arena of green
would have been eradicated
as if the right filter had been removed
leaving only the skeleton of coarse brightness.
All green ends up eventually
churning in her left cheek.
Her mouth is a laundromat of spinning drowning herbs.
She is never in fields
but is sucking the pith out of grass.
I have noticed the very leaves from flower decorations
grow sparse in their week long performance in our house.
The garden is a dust bowl.
On our last day in Eden as we walked out
she nibbled the leaves at her breasts and crotch.
But there’s none to touch
none to equal
the Chlorophyll Kiss