Sunday, July 26, 2009

The Bush:

The Bush:

Herve’ tells me sure, it’s mystical, a transcendental
Place, somewhere in the jungle, behind the mud-brick
Dwellings that face the road in his village, thatched the old way
with palm fronds, or, if possible, sheet metal.

The reason, bro, he says, that anyone would go there,
Is for initiation, for power to heal, and there are rites
with plants. The ones you encounter there are the
Dead, who can be seen, but not heard, or touched.

Just like us ~ our words fly onto respective screens,
Our heads, the little images of ourselves, sit beside
To illustrate who writes. He’s chosen himself crouching
In a baseball cap and blue t; me, green zippered sweater.

There’s a road, what we’d call a path, a worn
Cut up a hillside bank in deep forest. And there’s the
Rooster, red hackles, scratching about in the duff,
And even the earth exposed is red, just as it is said to be

In the visions told by those who’ve returned.
I’m aware, as I dream, and remember, that I’ve arrived
at some destination, near something, but
Cannot tell if it is home, or death, or both.


Cathy said...

Magnificent desolation.

Dan Dutton said...

This is my first "facebook" poem. I've got another one brewing.

I never dreamed that Elizabeth Bishop would be the poet closest to my own aims at this point. I've always loved what she did ~ now I can appreciate it even more ~ intellect has a cadence too.

Dan Dutton said...

Here's a vision related by an initiate into Bwiti, a new syncretic religion emerging in the Congo. The initiates take ibogaine, from the roots and bark of a bush, and (sometimes) have a vision. The visions typically have certain things in common ~ and some of those happen to be ones in my dream. (There's a painting of this, which someone bought. I'll get a pic of it.)

An account of one of those visions, from "Bwiti: an Ethnography of the Religious Imagination in Africa" by James Fernandez:

VISION: "I started up a red road and passed through a village full of people whom I heard in their huts crying and wailing. On each side was a hill with a fine house on each. Beyond the village I came to a river, and three women were there fishing bones out of that river and placing them on the bank. I floated across the river, at the other side of which was a crossroads with three roads: silver, gold, and red. Standing in the center there was my father. He said, "See where you have arrived with the power of eboga." I passed through his legs and started up the gold route, which became brighter and brighter. I came to another crossroads, where I found the otunga planted.

There, under the otunga, the chicken that had been killed for me When I started eating eboga was alive and scratching. Beyond the otunga a man was shining on a cross. I knew him from his pictures. It was Eyen Zame (the savior figure, one who sees God and brings the word and vision to mankind). I passed beneath the cross to a house of glass on a hill. It was the house of Nyingwan Mebege (female principle of the universe). Within was my brother. He was secretary and writing for two men all in white, who sat at either end of a long table. He was writing my history and my name as a Banzie. Then my father of eboga called me back, for I should go no farther."

It was conversation with a facebook friend in Cameroon that coagulated the poem.