Tag Archives: National Poetry Day

National Poetry Day (Canada Edition)

Image result for the cinnamon peeler

Considering that it’s National Poetry Day, I figured I should include one of my favourite Canadian poems. For those who know me, it will come as no surprise that my choice is a selection from Michael Ondaatje’s beautifully crafted lyric poem, The Cinnamon Peeler.

If I were a cinnamon peeler
I would ride your bed
And leave the yellow bark dust
On your pillow.

Your breasts and shoulders would reek
You could never walk through markets
without the profession of my fingers
floating over you.
The blind would
stumble certain of whom they approached
though you might bathe
under rain gutters, monsoon.

Here on the upper thigh
at this smooth pasture
neighbour to you hair
or the crease
that cuts your back.
This ankle.

You will be known among strangers
as the cinnamon peeler’s wife.

I could hardly glance at you
before marriage
never touch you
–your keen nosed mother, your rough brothers.

I buried my hands
in saffron, disguised them
over smoking tar,
helped the honey gatherers.

.

When we swam once
I touched you in the water
and our bodies remained free,
you could hold me and be blind of smell.

you climbed the bank and said

this is how you touch other women
the grass cutter’s wife, the lime burner’s daughter.

And you searched your arms
for the missing perfume

and knew

what good is it
to be the lime burner’s daughter
left with no trace
as if not spoken to in the act of love
as if wounded without the pleasure of a scar.

You touched
your belly to my hands
in the dry air and said
I am the cinnamon
Peeler’s wife.
Smell me.

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National Poetry Day

Image result for william ernest henley

In honour of #NationalPoetryDay, I’m posting what may very well be my favourite poem, William Ernest Henley’s “Invictus.” Latin for “unconquered” (a language not to be confused with what Dan Quayle once remarked: “I was recently on a tour of Latin America, and the only regret I have was that I didn’t study Latin harder in school so I could converse with those people”), Henley wrote the poem in 1875, only to wait 13 years to have it published.

 

Out of the night that covers me,
      Black as the pit from pole to pole,
I thank whatever gods may be
      For my unconquerable soul.
In the fell clutch of circumstance
      I have not winced nor cried aloud.
Under the bludgeonings of chance
      My head is bloody, but unbowed.
Beyond this place of wrath and tears
      Looms but the Horror of the shade,
And yet the menace of the years
      Finds and shall find me unafraid.
It matters not how strait the gate,
      How charged with punishments the scroll,
I am the master of my fate,
      I am the captain of my soul.

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