Monday, November 8, 2010

I are back!

So… Yeah…  I have been MIA on here for the last while.  I have lots I to talk about, but unless blogging is a specific assignment I have to feel motivated before I want to sit down and process my thoughts.  So, for example, many responded about their observations recently, mine was awesome by the way, but after talking about it in pretty much every class, coming home and blogging about it was about as high on my list as giving myself a root canal… with no anesthesia… using rusty tools… while standing on my head.  I am sure other students in the program feel that reading another blog about another practicum is just as tedious and as such… no posts from me lately.

Today, however, I woke up feeling the motivation to write.  Don’t ask me why but there it is.  So I have a few things I want to talk about and in order to avoid a wall of text I shall cover them one post at a time.  For now I will start with a gift to make up for my absence, and that gift is prompted by today’s English methods class where we finally started talking about poetry.  At the end of the class we were asked to list our three favourite poems.  I never enjoy questions like these because I always feel like I am missing something on my list that should trump what I came up with.  It is like asking for your favourite movie of all time.  It’s just not fair!

Without further ado, however, my list was the following. 

“Ulysses” by Alfred Tennyson
“My Mistress’s eyes are nothing like the sun” by Shakespeare
“The Cinnamon Peeler” by Michael Ondaatje

Already I can think of other poems that beg to be on this list, but The Cinnamon Peeler is one that has to remain as I just adore this poem.  I will definitely post more poetry and possibly literature which I love but today this is my gift to you.

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 rain gutters, monsoon.

Here on the upper thigh
at this smooth pasture
neighbor 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 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 grasscutter'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 an act of love
as if wounded without the pleasure of scar.

You touched
your belly to my hands
in the dry air and said
I am the cinnamon
peeler's wife. Smell me.

So why do I love this poem so much?  Well it has to be about the sexiest poem that I have ever come across.  The last three stanzas should really come with some sort of warning label.  CAUTION DO NOT READ WITH YOUR PARENTS PRESENT or WARNING DO NOT OPERATE HEAVY MACHINERY AND READ THIS POEM.  The way that Ondaatje takes smell, morphs it from being a sort of sexist claiming ritual, into timidity, and finally into an act of desire and longing is just breathtaking.  The imagery to be wounded without the pleasure of a scar is enough to make even a nun weak in the knees in my opinion.  And did you ever think that someone saying “smell me” could actually be sexy? 

I adore the way that Ondaatje plays with the sense of smell in this poem.  Smell is our most powerful sense and it is easily the most consuming and visceral.  If you smell something lovely, like fresh baked bread, rain on hot pavement, or recently cut grass, you cannot help to stop and breathe in a moment of elation.  Tying smell to the trope of a desire to be claimed and not caring who knows it is just brilliance.  I personally cannot read this poem without feeling like some sort of hopeless romantic and while I would love to analyze every line in the interest of brevity I will let the poem stand for itself


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