Guest poem sent in by Jim Ellis
(Poem #1621) At Funchal (Island of Madeira)
On the beach there's a seafood place, simple, a shack thrown up by survivors of the shipwreck. Many turn back at the door, but not the sea winds. A shadow stands inside his smoky hut frying two fish according to an old recipe from Atlantis, tiny garlic explosions, oil running over sliced tomatoes, every morsel says that the ocean wishes us well, a humming from the deep places. She and I look into each other. It's like climbing the wild-flowered mountain slopes without feeling the least bit tired. We've sided with the animals, they welcome us, we don't age. But we have experienced so much together over the years, including those times when we weren't so good (as when we stood in line to give blood to the healthy giant - he said he wanted a transfusion), incidents which we've totally forgotten - though they haven't forgotten us! They've turned to stones, dark and light, stones in a scattered mosaic. And now it happens: the pieces move towards each other, the mosaic appears and is whole. It waits for us. It glows down from the hotel-room wall, some figure violent and tender, perhaps a face, we can't take it all in as we pull off our clothes. After dusk we go out. The dark powerful paw of the cape lies thrown out into the sea. We walk in swirls of human beings, we are cuffed around kindly, among soft tyrannies, everyone chatters excitedly in the foreign tongue. "No man is an island." We gain strength from "them," but also from ourselves. From what is inside that the other person can't see. That which can only meet itself. The innermost paradox, the underground garage flowers, the vent towards the good dark. A drink that bubbles in empty glasses. An amplifier that magnifies silence. A path that grows over after every step. A book that can only be read in the dark.
(Sweden, b. 1930) [Note: If anyone knows who the translator is, please write in and we'll add it to the webpage - martin] Your website is wonderful but surprisingly you don't have anything yet by my favorite poet, Tomas Transtromer from Sweden. "In Funchal" is about the beauty and mystery of a long-term love. The poet and his wife (I think) are on vacation, invigorated by the sea - the sensory imagery in the first paragraph is masterful. They wind up in their hotel room, reflecting on their history - the good and the bad. Transtromer compares their memories to "stones, dark and light, stones in a scattered mosaic." Emotional, (it feels like they've had a couple glasses of wine!), reconnected, they make love - "the pieces move towards each other, the mosaic appears and is whole. It waits for us. It glows down from the hotel-room wall, some figure violent and tender, perhaps a face, we can't take it all in as we pull off our clothes." Transtromer could have stopped there, and the poem would have been a glorious achievement. But as he and and his wife go for a walk among the townspeople and tourists, taking in the atmosphere in a post-coital mellowness, the poem also doesn't stop or fall to sleep. This is typical of Transtromer. He goes beyond the beautiful gratitude for their love and understanding that he has just celebrated to an almost hallucinative meditation on the mystery of individual consciousness - the gratitude here is that we somehow gain also gain strength from "what is inside that the other person can't see." Happy Valentine's Day, Minstrels - what the world needs now is love. Jim Ellis Auburn, New York [Links] Biography: http://www.bedfordstmartins.com/introduction_literature/poetry/transtromer.htm