Boone, North Carolina, is a small town in the Northwest corner of North Carolina and in the tail of the Appalachian Mountain chain.
Although Boone is a university town, host to Appalachian State University (2005 & 2006 National Champs in their football category) it is not as cosmopolitan as other college towns. We have 1 1/2 theatres (a 6 screen first run and 2 screen bargain theatre), several big chain restaurants, a few coffee shops and some very nice locally owned eating establshments.
There is snow in the winter and skiing; plenty of hiking and canoeing in the summer and lots of tourists and second home owners.
You get the picture.
Yesterday, after eating lunch at one of the more colorful local burrito places, I stopped by a local beanery for a good cup of coffee. Upstairs from the coffee shop is a bookstore which is home to a small selection of books that you might be hard pressed to find anywhere else. I haven’t been in this bookstore in forever and I believe that since the original owner passed away, it has not really kept up the pace—what with the internet and Amazon dot com.
Anyway, I am a sucker for books, especially those that are hard to find. And when I ran into the 60% off table, I was even more intriqued and interested to find something of interest.
What I found was a book of poems called “Garden of Exile” by Aleida Rodrîquez. She was born in Cuba and left around the time of all that trouble during the Kennedy administration.
Now I like words and how they fit together even when I can’t totally figure out what they mean. I have read Frost, Dickinson, Eliot and e.e. cummings, just to name some that readily come to mind. Having said that I will say that Aleida holds her own in the lets-paint-an-image-with-words category.
As I was reading her book of poems, one entitled “Concierto de Aranjuez” caught my eye. Miles Davis and Gil Evans recorded a song of the same name on and album called “Sketch’s of Spain”.
The poem is somewhat sensual or not—which means I hesitate to put it in blogland because of, well you know, mis-understanding.
Now that I am over that hurdle, here it goes:
Vast yellow plain, heat and the meander of memory, incandescent
edge wavering between shadow and light
opens into bright space, the long hot distance vibrating
between us and desire like an empty yellow house
where we’ll never live, the unrequited sun reaching for us
so far below, spendthrifts of its attention
even as it flatters us, aimless on this yellow
plain, interminable as a sermon, but—suddnely—olive trees,
grey-green in the distance, hint at moisture,
the mouth of the beloved parting in the shade.
Out pace quickens and a slight swagger loosens our gait,
foreplay originating in embodiment, our own delight
seeking its twin in the beloved,
our mouths small mountain lakes remembering rain,
we are wet with ourselves, and a melodic curve enters
our bloodstream the way the sky releases its blue snake
into water, breaking the hot surface with such deep wetness,
astonishingly blue to the taste,
its edge cold on our parched
tongues, our sweaty necks, our salty faces,
and where time had seemed childhood’s summer,
it now rushes with water’s
impatience not to preserve narrative but to squander
the moment, and always that seems to bubble from us,
its language loose, emphatic in its surrender,
possession of itself a gift,
now, at the oasis, replacing the plain burning in our eyes
with water, water gazing at the sky.
©1999 Aleida Rodriquez
The line I think I like the most is:
our mouths small mountain lakes remembering rain
As you can read, she is quite the poet—her use of image words and the fluidity of her language is almost intoxicating. With each re-read I get a little more of the picture I think it is she wanted to paint for us. Yet at the same time realizing that to pin something down to one possible scenario is like calling VanGogh’s Stary Night one dimensional. I am sure there was something in mind when she wrote yet the words themselves refuse to be totally pigeon-holed—rather to let the reader have a little fun with his or her imagination.
In the end I must say that living in Boone—while not perfect—has its little perks. Finding stuff like this book in a small nook somewhere is just one of them.