Inspired by the lovely poem I received from my mother on my most recent birthday, I decided to publish the poem that I wrote for Mischa’s birthday earlier this year. I won’t be winning any literature prizes, but I think it captures a certain aspect of the rugged mountain life of southern Patagonia.
I wrote this during our stay at Llanos del Castor, a mountain refugio near Ushuaia, which was also home to some 80 hounds who ran sleds in the winter.
The Man and his Dog 12/02/2017
Alongside a river in the Patagonian South,
Rose the smoke from a cabin where the waters formed a mouth.
There lived a weathered fellow who liked things as they were,
He wore great big trundling boots and a coat of beaver fur.
This land was his kingdom and he worked himself to the bone,
Setting traps and chopping wood, his intent as hard as stone.
His hands, wrinkled from the whipping winds, were seldom free of his mate pot,
Which he filled time and again with tea leaves that fast began to rot.
Once mistaken for a grizzly bear, a hunter shot him in the shoulder,
Being half way up the mountain side he sagged and rolled down like a bolder.
But just before the river’s edge, he felt sharp pincers wince him to a stop.
His faithful friend the Greyster hound had caught him by the sock.
For this far south in the wild terrain, few souls dare to tread.
Without his dog trailing to close to foot, a man is surely dead.
And now for another poem about Patagonia that caught my attention:
I said perhaps Patagonia, and pictured
a peninsula, wide enough
for a couple of ladderback chairs
to wobble on at high tide. I thought
of us in breathless cold, facing
a horizon round as a coin, looped
in a cat’s cradle strung by gulls
from sea to sun. I planned to wait
till the waves had bored themselves
to sleep, till the last clinging barnacles,
growing worried in the hush, had
paddled off in tiny coracles, till
those restless birds, your actor’s hands,
had dropped slack into your lap,
until you’d turned, at last, to me.
When I spoke of Patagonia, I meant
skies all empty aching blue. I meant
years. I meant all of them with you.