Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Sweet Like a Crow

Pink Beach, 2012

I am reading Michael Ondaatje's Running in the Family.  This is my second time.  He's an author I like to revisit. 

I don't know if I can even begin to describe this book to you.  And this is one of the many things I like about it.

An excerpt from pages 76 and 77:

SWEET LIKE A CROW

for Hetti Corea, 8 years old

The Sinhalese are beyond a doubt one of the least musical
people in the world.  It would be quite impossible to have
less sense of pitch, line, or rhythm"

PAUL BOWLES

Your voice sounds like a scorpian being pushed
through a glass tube
like someone has just trod on a peacock
like wind howling in a coconut
like a rusty bible, like someone pulling barbed wire
across a stone courtyard, like a pig drowning,
a vattacka being fried
a bone shaking hands
a frog singing at Carnegie Hall.
Like a crow swimming in milk,
like a nose being hit by a mango
like the crowd at the Royal-Thomian match,
a womb full of twins, a pariah dog
with a magpie in its mouth
like the midnight jet from Casablanca
like Air Pakistan curry,
a typewriter on fire, like a spirit in the gas
which cooks your dinner,
like a hundred pappadans being crunched, like someone
uselessly trying to light 3 Roses matches in a dark room,
the clicking sound of a reef when you put your head into the sea,
a dolphin reciting epic poetry to a sleepy audience,
the sound of a fan when someone throws brinjals at it,
like pineapples being sliced in the Pettah market
like betel juice hitting a butterfly in mid-air
like a whole village running naked onto the street
and tearing their sarongs, like an angry family
pushing a jeep out of the mud, like dirt of a needle,
like 8 sharks being carried on the back of a bicycle
like 3 old ladies locked in a lavatory
like the sound I heard when having an afternoon sleep
and someone walked through my room in ankle bracelets.

28 comments:

  1. These are wonderful; thanks for sharing!

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  2. Oh, I bet he had fun writing this! The "3 old ladies locked in a lavatory" got me thinking; were they each locked in their individual stalls,oblivious to each other or were they really locked in, standing at the door, screaming and hitting it, trying to get out?

    I can see why you return to Ondaatje's work so often.

    By the way, what is the red in your photo? Cranberries? It's breathtaking.

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    1. It certainly is something to ponder.

      The red/pink is many tiny succulent type plants growing in the sand. They were so beautiful.

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  3. These descriptions create just vivid pictures.

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  4. I think the most interesting juxtaposition is between the pitch, line and rhythm of this poem and the dearth of musicality in Mr. Bowles observation.

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  5. Like a nose being hit by a mango!?!? That has to be the best description.... Your photograph is extraordinary Denise - such a beautiful pink...

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    1. The nose being hit by a mango caught my attention too, Annie. Ouch.

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  6. Pink Beach, I did not know that it could exist. Beautiful, the image and your words, need to find more about this book.

    Have a good weekend dear you!

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  7. "a typewriter on fire", that's my favorite one. and congrats to you for your piece in taproot magazine! so lovely to see you there. xoxo.

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    1. Thank you, Katrina. It was a pleasure working with Taproot.

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  8. I am stunned- I have to read it many times-3 old ladies stuck in a lavatory, and Air Pakistan curry- I really wonder about those two more than the rest- oh brilliant!

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    1. It seems it is meant to stun, Annamaria. It demands to be read more than once. I'd like to try the Air Pakistan curry, I think...

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  10. Thank you for the passage. I have such a difficult time finishing his books but his writing is so amazing. Sorry I did not get back to you sooner. I have been away....again....and life is a bit stressed right now. I need to take a big breath somewhere along the way here. Have a wonderful weekend. Hugs.

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    1. I have another friend who couldn't finish one of his books, Raina. Reading is so subjective. I hope you are taking a deep breath and relaxing.

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  11. brilliant incredible hilarious

    thank you for sharing this.
    I think I had that book of useless matches

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    1. You are welcome, Nancy.

      I know I had a box of useless matches this summer. They really made lighting the charcoal for our grill an ordeal.

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  12. if you were a journal I would totally subscribe. You keep me thinking, sighing and pausing...

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    1. Oh, this is such a nice note. Thank you, Amelia. I'm smiling.

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  13. So excellent! I would like to re-post this! Lovely blog, beautiful stillness in your photographs. Thanks!

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