Wednesday, May 31, 2006

The Time Around Scars

Michael Ondaatje is another one of my favorite Canadian poets. I'm slightly biased in saying so, but I think Canadian poets are putting out some of the best poetry there is right now... aside from 50 Cent. Ondaatje is most famous for his book "The English Patient". I'm not finnished reading The English Patient and I'm not sold on the story line completely as of yet, but the text is true to all the Ondaatje I've read in that he creates a rich template with every word that wraps the reader in imagery and emotion. This is one of my favorite poems by him as I have a number of scars. Most from DH Biking and none with really good stories. Closest I guess would be a scar that runs from the bottom of my palm on my left arm to midway up my forearm. It happened as a result of a swimming center wristband and a poor technique in cutting it off but often leads to questions of emotional stability as though it were the result of a suiside attempt gone wrong. I, like the speaker in this poem, wish that my scar wasn't the result of a silly accident, but rather the result of some emotional conquest as that would have better utilized the emotional time-capsule capacity that scars have. I do have a guitar that my father gave me the year before my family began it's incidious dissasembly, it's ironic as writting songs is how I work out difficult emotional situations and the giver of the vehicle for that device has since caused more than his share of those. So even though my scars have little meaning there are other things that serve similar purposes, according to Ondaatje, in my life.

The Time Around Scars
Michael Ondaatje

A girl whom I've not spoken to
or shared coffee with for several years
writes of an old scar.
On her wrist it sleeps, smooth and white,
the size of a leech.
I gave it to her
brandishing a new Italian penknife.
Look, I said turning,
and blood spat onto her shirt.

My wife has scars like spread raindrops
on knees and ankles,
she talks of broken greenhouse panes
and yet, apart from imagining red feet,
(a nymph out of Chagall)
I bring little to that scene.
We remember the time around scars,
they freeze irrelevant emotions
and divide us from present friends.
I remember this girl's face,
the widening rise of surprise.

And would she
moving with lover or husband
conceal or flaunt it,
or keep it at her wrist
a mysterious watch.
And this scar I then remember
is a medallion of no emotion.

I would meet you now
and I would wish this scar
to have been given with
all the love
that never occurred between us.


Dagga said...

"We remember the time around scars,
they freeze irrelevant emotions" how true, I have crystal clear memorys of the time leading up to many scars no matter how unimportant.

Rus said...

do you mean "Fiddy Cent"?

elisabeth said...

one of my twin girls has a scar on er forehead, and because they're identical it will make it easier for people to tell them apart.
i will never forget the moment that it happened and i think it kind of sucks that she has no memory of it, especially because it will probably be a big part of her physical uniquiness in comparison to her sister.

scars are cool.

aisy said...

it makes me think of how living life requires scars, both physical and emotional. it's when we start to fear the scars that we close ourselves off to experience.

elisabeth said...

i wish my name was ondaatje

phyllis sweetwater said...

i peirced my arm once and it left a scar, but it was more than skin deep. Here's my poem about it:


I've got scars from all
of the heat of your thoughts
hot tempered temperature
like balls of glass
like balls of wax
skin is just a peeling.
peel it off the fruit
inside you see is meaty
it ripened overnight when you werent looking
and dopped from the tree
and blistered in the sun
and now it is cold
your temper rises once again
your temperature stings my skin
and scars
like charcoals
and embers
and hot glue.

elisabeth said...

that reminds me of a disturbing movie i saw last year. i had to watch it in fast forward it was so painful. it was an indie movie called "in my skin". the main character went kind of coocoo bananas and starting slicing pieces of her skin off and eating it. blaaaach. so gross. if you like shock value, there's a lot of it in this one!
here's a site for it:

Dagga said...

disturbing? that´s on way of putting it.

elisabeth said...

oops sorry that site doesn't work.