Free Verse Poetry
Ondaatje, Atwood and Frost
Speaking To You (From Rock Bottom)
~ Michael Ondaatje
Speaking to you
these days when
I have lost the feather of poetry
and the rains
surround us tock
tock like Go tablets
Everyone has learned
to move carefully
‘Dancing’ ‘laughing’ ‘bad taste’
is a memory
a tableau behind trees of law
In the midst of love for you
my wife’s suffering
anger in every direction
and the children wise
as tough shrubs
but they are not tough
–so I fear
how anything can grow from this
all the wise blood
poured from little cuts
down into the sink
this hour it is not
your body I want
but your quiet company
The Cinnamon Peeler ~ a lyric poem by Ondaatje
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 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
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 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
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.
your belly to my hands
in the dry air and said
I am the cinnamon
peeler’s wife. Smell me.
~ Margaret Atwood
The moment when, after many years
of hard work and a long voyage
you stand in the centre of your room,
house, half-acre, square mile, island, country,
knowing at last how you got there,
and say, I own this,
is the same moment when the trees unloose
their soft arms from around you,
the birds take back their language,
the cliffs fissure and collapse,
the air moves back from you like a wave
and you can’t breathe.
No, they whisper. You own nothing.
You were a visitor, time after time
climbing the hill, planting the flag, proclaiming.
We never belonged to you.
You never found us.
It was always the other way round.
The Road Not Taken
~ Robert Frost
Two roads diverged in a yellow wood,
And sorry I could not travel both
And be one traveler, long I stood
And looked down one as far as I could
To where it bent in the undergrowth;
Then took the other, as just as fair,
And having perhaps the better claim
Because it was grassy and wanted wear,
Though as for that the passing there
Had worn them really about the same,
And both that morning equally lay
In leaves no step had trodden black.
Oh, I kept the first for another day!
Yet knowing how way leads on to way
I doubted if I should ever come back.
I shall be telling this with a sigh
Somewhere ages and ages hence:
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I,
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.
~ namasté, Leah J. 🕊
🕊 embracing mindful, empowering transformations🕊
© Leah J. Spence 2019, All Rights Reserved