Thursday, September 21, 2006

alles wir gut

-which means, 'all will be good.'

The art of travel. A small book in the stuffy Frankfurt airport beckons me from the shelf. I don't have time for anything more than a short flip through it. Mobility, flexibility, newness, difference. To travel is to be human, with a body designed to walk 75 kilometres a day.

To travel is to trick the body, the mind, the senses. Rhythms dictated by light, breakfast offered in the new time zone, though it may be 2 am for the stomach. Time is made irrelevant and inconsequential. Time is reduced to waiting, and waiting to stillness. There are no hours, only the opening and closing of doors.

I am back in Germany with a very good friend. It's been five and a half years since I've set foot on European soil, but strangely, it feels familiar, warm, known. It's like returning to a scrapbook, train stubs and receipts jutting out from its pages, worn with years. This time it's less survival-oriented and more enhancing. There is less an attitude of acquisition and more one of perception. I have returned, it seems, not to a land once travelled but to a friendship unchanged by distance.

Sometimes it seems unbelievable that I'm here again. Sometimes it feels absolutely expected. The more I travel, the more I move, relocate, and explore, the more hospitable the world seems. Otherness diminishes, borders narrow, home is spread out. When I'm in another country there is a point at which nothing feels different. My breath, the weight of my body on the ground, is exactly as it would be anywhere else. In those moments of realization, in order to convince myself of the distance I've actually come, I must picture a map and the comparative distance those centimeters represent. How interesting that when travelling, we often think of our world pictorally rather than experientially.

As for the specifics: I'm finally naturalized to the time change. Finally convinced that time is just a construct, numbers relative to sleep and light. I've traversed Regensburg's many alleyways and cobblestone corridors, shied under the dwarfing vaults of her cathedral ceilings. Marvelled at her people's youthfulness, vitality, and fashion, over cups of steaming macchiato. Visited the world's oldest brewery at the kloster (monastery) on the curving Danube. Drank prosecco in the Bismarkplatz listening to children speak a langugage I cannot. Visited the hall of the gods with its busts of Kant, Goethe, Bach, and Schiller. Listened to covers of English pop songs over Guiness in an Irish pub. Caught up and reminisced about an experience on a ship in the Atlantic, seemingly long ago, but still burnt on our memories like the touch of hot iron.

And the sun is a lazy September coal, drying the sunflowers, and coaxing my skin to glow.

Saturday, September 09, 2006

das capitals

it seems as if i've switched, in the last few entries, to titles beginning with lower-case letters. maybe i'm feeling as though what i have to say lately is less important. maybe it's a confidence thing. maybe it's an aesthetic thing, but i've noticed that more and more people are jumping on this anti-capital bandwagon.

and then i thought, maybe it's a poet thing.

yeah, that could be it, because it's so much prettier to write poetry that fits along a single line and doesn't just out into the white space above, exerting itself like some kind of primadonna.

so there i go, reading into things that probably don't matter much at all, in the wide scope of things. but that is writing, that is criticism, and that is poetry. without them we would be stuck in the present. trapped in the constant momentum of
doingdoingdoing. never stopping to ponder. never possessing the ability to look back. never wrapping our fingers, sticky with the present, around the world whizzing past us.

Wednesday, September 06, 2006

house of words

Syracuse, NY. Sitting on a back porch, looking at a leaning fence and a blue house with a half-moon window. It could be any blue house, and any half-moon window, anywhere. In Winnipeg, in Vancouver, in any place I have loved. The sun is filtering itself through persistent grey clouds, too bright to look at, too dull to fully cheer.

A week and a half into my continent-trotting parade, and I have seen many states that look exactly the same as the provinces north of them. I have seen many freeways, the bloodveins of a restless nation, where people drive too fast and where there are too many greasy roadside distractions. Another week and a half and I’ll be looking out upon more of this state, from the window of a bus where I’ll sit, alone, in motion. Another week and a half and I’ll be heading towards Times Square: time to the power of two. Time, multiplied upon itself in the center of one of the world’s largest cities. And then I’ll wait for a plane to take me to another place, for awhile.

America, Germany, Canada, and back again. Loved, left, alone, embraced, family, community, alone, rejected, healed. The cycle of looking for home and leaving it behind, finding it in sounds and tastes and textures: The crunch of toast in the morning, the voices of friends by day, the softness of companionship in the evening. These are the things that are my shelter. In spite of the white walls, needing warmth. In spite of the scattered furniture and unpacked boxes. No matter what small messes I pile around me I find the lead weight in my heart and mind that binds me to

this ground

this home

this permanency

Prose that slowly burns off its skins of usefulness, exposing the raw stuff of beauty

that lies embedded in the poetry’s subtle gestures.

This is how we live; observing, accomplishing tasks,

carrying out our various modes of survival.

All the while pushing for the thing that makes it all worth carrying on at all.

The thing that for many of us is nameless, but stronger and louder than

anything we’ve heretofore been able to name.

Poetry, force your way through the mundane flurry of words I write.
Redeem this language. Brighten this day. Amen.