National Poetry Month – daily poem

Since today begins National Poetry Month, I am undertaking a big committment to post a poem every day this month. Not just my own but poems I love or that have come to mean something to me over the years. For the first installment, a poem by Michael Ondaatje whose writing I have described before as the kind of feeling like settling into a warm bath. His words wash over you and you feel somehow new when you’re finished.

The Time Around Scars
by 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.

– from The Cinnamon Peeler

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