10 August 2004

Missing The Obvious

      Okay: the University of Toronto sets up a Canadian Poets page which you can see here.   Now, for those of you that aren't avid readers of Canadian poetry (who is?), figure out which two top names are curious missing.   Now don't think too long.... Hint: one is the only Canadian writer to have a novel turned into a Best Picture award-winner; the other is, well, let's just say, a man who had no choice (he was born with the gift of a golden voice).

Michael Ondaatje
Ladies and Gentlemen, Mr. Leonard Cohen

      Here, by the way, is Mr. O's best poem ever, in my not so humble estimation. The simple words "This ankle" have never been so erotic.

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 the rain gutters, monsoon.

Here on the upper thigh
at this smooth pasture
neighbour to your 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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