“…old pleasures abundant”

august fig.jpg

A book I turn to in summer is a beautiful edition of Robert Bly’s Ramages, published by Gaylord Schanilec’s Midnight Paper Sales in 2005. This was a gift from Anik See, friend and co-conspirator in our Fish Gotta Swim Editions project. The poem”Turkish Pears” holds in it the heat and bounty of August.

Sometimes a poem has her own husband
And children, her nooks and gardens and kitchens,
Her stairs, and those sweet-armed serving boys
Who carry veal in shiny copper pans.
Some poems do give plebeian sweets
Tastier than the chocolates French diners
Eat at evening, and old pleasures abundant
As Turkish pears in the garden in August.

No veal or multiple kitchens here, no pears this August (when you read my essay “Euclid’s Orchard” you’ll understand why…), but there are old pleasures and gardens and even a sweet-armed serving boy. Errr, man. And if not Turkish pears, at least Ficus carica ‘Brown Turkey’, which we ate last evening stuffed with Boursin cheese and wrapped in proscuitto. And I’ve just picked more.

Turkish pears, Okanagan peaches

In 2005, our friend Anik See gave us a beautiful little book, Turkish Pears in August: 20 Ramages, by Robert Bly, printed by Gaylord Schanilec at Midnight Paper Sales (www.midnightpapersales.com). Ramage is the name Bly gives for the brief 8 line poems in the collection: “The word occasionally appears as the name of a movement during some French compositions for flute; it is related to the French noun for “branch.” We can hear the root of that in “ramify”. The tunings of these things is like tuning on horseback some sort of stringed instrument from the Urals.”

The title poem celebrates “old pleasures abundant/As Turkish pears in the garden in August.” I thought of those ramages yesterday when I saw these peaches in Claytons in Sechelt, so richly coloured, so deserving of their own poem. Or at least their own golden eloquence in jars on a dark shelf, scented with vanilla bean and ginger.