Friday, 18 April 2014

CRYSTALS IN THEIR HEARTS: A Poem via Gabriel Garcia Marquez

Writing about Marquez this morning reminded me of this poem. I wrote Crystals In Their Hearts in July 1988, in London. The story was told to me by the woman to whom the poem is dedicated--she had attended the wedding of one of Marquez' sons in Mexico City and it did snow during the wedding. It was Rania who, noticing the shelf of Latin American novels in my flat, gave me my copy of Love In The Time Of Cholera. It hardly seems 25 years ago. The poem was originally published by the marvelous Angela Ball in issue 52 of the Mississippi Review, in 1989. It was later published in Canada, in Shadowplay 3 (1992) and in Britain in Foolscap 17 (1993). I have revised it slightly since then. 



CRYSTALS IN THEIR HEARTS
                                                      for Rania

In the still & solemn silence of
A chill English summer,
Where things are things as they are,
You remembered for me
Marquez's son's wedding in Mexico City, how
His garden filled with snow which fell
From a sunny sky in the middle of May,
How it covered the maguey,
Formed fragile drifts
On bourgainvillea & hung
For long & frozen instants between the bars
Of the parrot's giant bamboo cage.

You said you were not surprised to find yourself
Covered with snowflakes that didn't melt.
It seemed natural in that setting that snow should fall,
That heat itself might disappear yet still
Be all around you, that the festering simmer
You also recalled, the tale of tropic disease
You told me, not be frozen out,
Not eradicated completely from your life.                                                             
                                                                         

                                                                          I felt
There was a shadow sitting shivering somewhere close
Behind us. Everything we said included
A sentence that was somehow left unsaid.

Next day, driving through the dimensionless
Countryside beyond Ware we felt
The temperature drop at least ten degrees
In half an hour. But we saw no snow.
This was just a flat & wet & gray landscape
Laid out by drizzle on a twisted road,
As magical as it would ever get for us. Yet
We waited. We said nothing more.
Still no snow fell.

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