Travel & Art

Poetry from Patagonia: The Man and his Dog

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.

 

The end.

Micha on the walk to the Emerald Lagoon in Ushuaia, Patagonia.
The real hounds of Patagonia. I wouldn’t be surprised if Ushuaia was home to the world’s largest dog population.

And now for another poem about Patagonia that caught my attention:

Patagonia

Kate Clanchy

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.

Me playing with the dogs at Llanos del Castor, the mountain refugio.

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