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Thursday, 25 November 2010

Copper (Poem Composed After the Manner Prescribed by Bocage)


File:Chino copper mine.jpg

Chino open-pit copper mine, outside Silver City, New Mexico: photo by Eric Guinther, 2003

There must be something unusual in the air today, the buildings seem to be moving. Or is it just me?

(I was going to say it reminds me of the rolling motion of happy flesh upon the midsection of a jogger in the violet-streaked hush of the boxy evening, but now I have changed my mind, as there is a great deal of noise in the area, and far too much light remaining, or maybe advancing, for this to be described as evening, and I see no jogger in the picture, nor boxes either, in any case.)

Light is having a curious effect on the falling snowflakes. It is making them visible.

(There is a copper spire, or perhaps I should call it a steeple, just up ahead here, I think; though it may simply be I have smudged my eyeglasses, for the sharp weather causes my eyes to trickle; unless, that is, it is simply the trickling of the eyes, coming into contact with the withered lower tiers of the ancient countenance, that creates the impression of bitterness in the weather and of copperiness in the, let us admit seriously reduced, field of vision.)

File:Stora stöten.jpg

The 'Great Pit' Copper Mine, Falun, Sweden: photo by Wiguff, 2005

The tulips are like clouds, in a way. Or perhaps I should say, the clouds are like tulips, in a way.

(Taking something out and working something in, resting comfortably and jogging, as a cradle is rocked, these are the margins, I meant to say the rhythms, of my spring song, I meant to say winter, continually making things up as I go along, ostensibly so as not to come to the end, but actually so as to prolong the middle so cunningly as to trick it into believing, if only for a moment, if only with suspicion, that it is still but the beginning, just waking, having a stretch and a song.)

Something large and blue is affecting my vision. It is either the sky or my winter muffler.

(There is every likelihood it is definitely my winter muffler, I am all but certain.)

I think the sun is out, but on this point certainty is not easily brought to bear, that large luminous object could as easily be the moon, or for that matter a streetlamp.

(It could also be the glaring ocular apparatus of a huge one-eyed ceramic rocking horse, whose motions I had earlier mistaken for those of a cradle.)

Only a moment ago, when I saw those buildings, I was sure I was in the city, but now I see no buildings, so this may actually be the country, or perhaps the suburbs.

(There are stems, but no leaves, protruding from the earth, unless, that is, the stems are stumps, and the earth is pavement, or perhaps finely-ground grey rubble, strewn with leaves -- copper stumps, copper leaves, that coppery feeling again, and, too, the metallic crunch when one treads upon the copper leaves.)

File:Falu Gruva3.jpg

The 'Great Pit', mining area of the Great Copper Mountain, Falun, Sweden: photo by mig sjüalv, 2006

I have a feeling it is one of the winter months at present, December perhaps, or one of the other ones, November, January, March, and so on.

(Golden streaks line the edges of the furry black shapes that pop up peripherally, as I speak, and as quickly disappear again, these cannot be tulips, they must be clouds: unless, that is, they are the images of people; not actual people mind you -- there are of course none of those around, it is the holiday, the city and the country and the suburbs lie dead and vacant -- but the simulacra of people that populate my imagination, of those there is no lack, in fact more and more of them are popping up even as I say this.)

Given the choice, I would prefer one of the summer months, I believe.

(Kisses, blowing motions of the unpursed lips, solicitations of blessing, accompanied by the concession of pretentions to attention, the resignation of claims to preference, or perhaps the reverse, that is, the concession of claims to preference, or then again the sudden preference for claims to attention, or the grudging resignation of pretentions to claim, or finally the surrenders of claim, the resignation of concession, the preferences given over and yet again reclaimed, and as quickly forgotten, here, now, on this winter's, or summer's, night, or day.)


Chuquicamata open-pit copper mine, Chile: photo by Richard Jahn, 1984

Well, that's all there was to say, or to pretend to say, for tonight, or today. One really ought to be running along now.

(But I feel I am breathing a little poorly, it must be that tailings dust from the copper mines. This wasn't mentioned in the syllabus, the gasping from the fumes, the inhaling of the vapors, the exhaling of the vapors, more difficult still -- or was it? Fine print was never my forte. Now the memories come flocking back, in finely-powdered particulate form, ground-up bits of the temples we'd gone to see, the sanctuaries, the ruins, ah the ruins, the ancient halls reduced to cracked and tumbled blocks of stone, the wretched starved weeds, the encroaching cobwebs, the mould, the places in which we had worshipped, I wouldn't exactly say prayed, but paid our observances, a hotel now to lizards, to scorpions and rats, the battiness of the dust-filled ancient halls, the collapsing tunnels, the choking aerosols of the noisome intrusive unending memories, I can't get over you, I can't remember what I wanted to tell you, I can't stop telling you, I can't tell you, I can't stop being surprised, there are no surprises left in store, it all breaks down, it all falls apart, still there is more, it all works in together, it blends, it cooperates, it says soft things in the sad low hush of the secret quiet dark, no it doesn't, I lied, it must be the tailings dust.)

File:Falu Gruva2.jpg

The 'Great Pit', mining area of the Great Copper Mountain, Falun, Sweden: photo by mig sjüalv, 2006


TC said...

For a bit of background on the Manner Prescribed by Bocage, see Poetry Lesson.

Anonymous said...

Yes. That worked out much better than I could... Not what I was expecting at all. Not so funny.

I like the way the dialogue form works, if that's what you would call it. Bocage didn't know about that part, I'm guessing.

John B-R said...

Perhaps you've just invented a new form ...

Julia said...

I love it!
And now I'll read it again (el gusto va a ser el mismo, sin duda.)

"Something large and blue is affecting my vision. It is either the sky or my winter muffler." =D

TC said...

"The parentheses become like Christmas stockings," suggests the always thoughtful Muse of Theory.

"You can stuff anything inside them."

(Even lumps of coal, perhaps, think silent I, at a certain distance of reflection.)

"This elasticity is also useful for leg-pulling," she continues from the Dark Beyond.

And so passes the chilly winter night in the tunnel beneath the copper mine.

Anonymous said...

wonderful pics!

TC said...


Chuquicamata -- a vast hole torn from the earth of your land.

Copper has been mined there "from time immemorial," as the saying goes. In 1899 the mummified remains of "Copper Man", dated to the sixth century after Christ, were found there, trapped in an ancient mine shaft by a fall of rocks.

Chuquicamata probably holds the graves of many miners, going back to even earlier times.

(One guesses it was never a very pleasant place to work, in any epoch.)