03 February 2006

Hesitation, or Ciao, Chile

Perhaps it's taken me four days to write this entry because I don't want to have left Chile.

After 96 hours in Toronto, that last day is a blur. Some packing. A walk on the parcela. Chats with Sue. A little more work on my novel. Some poetry.

I wanted to talk some more with Alejandra about her writing, because I felt I had let that responsibility go. She dropped by to see me around 1 pm and we talked for an hour and a half, by far my longest discussion in Spanish thus far. I wanted to encourage her with her writing, and open her eyes to other possibilities in poetry, and urge her to read tons of other poets. I gave her one of my chapbooks, and a copy of Farmer Gloomy, and a gift of a couple of pens I picked up for her in San Pablo. She asked me lots of questions, and I did my best to respond in my limited Spanish. She wondered whether I had paid to have Farmer Gloomy published, or if the "editorial" read my poems, liked them, and asked to publish them. I explained how it had worked, but I stressed that I still did self-publish my own little chapbooks. She said that she wasn't going to have any photos in her next book of poems -- I think she put photos in her first one because she was modelling it after Sue's self-published books. She said the important thing was the text, the words. I have a feeling Sue might be thinking the same way.

Later on, when I was chatting in the kitchen with Sue, Alejandra knocked at the door. She came in and handed me a handwritten invitation, sort of formal, to a farewell tea with her family at 5:30 pm. I was really touched, and I changed into what was left of my good clothes for the occasion. It was the first time I'd been at the house of Lucho and family, which is right near Gord and Sue's place on the parcela. We sat at a picnic table, under a canopy of branches, vines, and leaves, and Luisa had prepared a wonderful vegetarian spread for me. The whole family was there: though Lucho had to soon leave because he had work to do. There was Luisa, Alejandra, Luchito, Solange, and Iván.

It was magical.

Did that have something to do with the huge steaming metal mug of yerba mate Luisa had me drink? I think, though, it was just that, finally, I was sitting with a Chilean family, as their guest, something I had hoped for. They are a beautiful family, full of good humour, amazing spirit, togetherness. They made me so welcome, and were delighted when I pigged out on the amazing food. Luisa and Alejandra gave me hugs when I left, and I wandered back with Sue to the estate, weeping a little.

Soon I was on plane. But before that, as Sue drove me one last time through El Noviciado, and I let fly a strand of hair out the car window, just to leave it behind, we passed the circus on the outskirts of town. This tiny ragtag circus that had been parked there for a week, and opened only for one night, a night I missed.

"Ciao, circo!" I yelled.


At February 04, 2006 3:42 pm , Anonymous Debby florence said...

I was having a conversation with a friend of mine the other night about the power of place. We agreed that we each felt almost an innate draw to particular kinds of places. She feels a need to see Scotland. The thought of fog makes her feel something centering, calming. Me, I think of bill bisset's poem , the winter people (i dont remember how he spells it). Warmer climates sound heavenly to me, but there is something about snow, winter, dark days.. its in my blood. It seems to me that Chile is this kiind of place to you. Thank you for writing so eloquently about your trip. I have enjoyed reading it.


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