Friday, April 22, 2011

The Bitter Oleander v. 17, n. 1

I just read The Bitter Oleander v. 17, n. 1. Great stuff. I liked the side-by-side translations of poems in Chinese, French, Spanish and Estonian. I also liked the inclusion of short fiction. Here’s my favorite poem:

“Fragmentation” – Philip Todd

     For a long while now it’s only been a man and his garden rock.
     The garden’s not much—just a patch of yard with scattered thistle, clover, dandelions, crabgrass.
     Before this the man had his one wife. When she left there was no wife. Only the rock in the garden was left.
     Years ago the rock was almost buried. The man dug it out when he built the house. He built the house when he had the one wife.
     The rock was large, really too large to roll, and colorless, caked with grime and grit. Rain washed the exposed rock. Soon streaks of color surfaced, baked by the bright sun, highlighted by the moon.
     So, long after the one wife had left, they sat in a scruffy garden—a man, his one rock. No words exchanged, just the sound of wind between them, ruffling the man’s beard, passing smoothly over the rock’s surface.
     The man was prone to smile at his rock, its colors now bleached. He would raise it with both hands, fingering its grainy texture, probing its crevices.
     Rock solid, he whispered to himself on more than one occasion.
     One day the sight of the rock in the middle of the garden stopped him cold. The rock, weathered by the elements, had split apart along a deep crevice.
     The man fell to his knees before the fragmented rock and stared. One rock plus one rock equals… two… Again, two precious things belonged in his life.
     Oh, but which one should he touch first? His outstretched, trembling hands paused before each rock fragment as tears moistened the sides of his beard.

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