To begin ...

As the twentieth century fades out
the nineteenth begins
it is as if nothing happened
though those who lived it thought
that everything was happening
enough to name a world for & a time
to hold it in your hand
unlimited.......the last delusion
like the perfect mask of death

Sunday, December 8, 2013

Ivan Alechine: Muxa Uxi, a Poem from the Huichol Sierra, with a Note by the Author

Ivan Alechine: Shadow of the Shaman Dioniso in Muxa Uxi
 Translation from French by Wendy Parramore  

I am the man and the dog Nahuatl
the pine needles fall
without thunder
like fine lightning

blow the cinders
the great raw theatre
of the oak’s bark
re-appear the black and the white

I salute you Germaine
I salute you Gabrielle
I salute you Paula
I salute you Michèle of all mothers mother
from the logosnow to the logosand
on the sand of Muxa Uxi 

Muxa Uxi 80 years ago
Muxa Uxi 800 years ago
Muxa Uxi 8000 years ago

I the watchman A gitur
in the O of the white circle
with a hit of E
from Urawe the hunter

I followed the path
I wrote in the snow
I drew in the sand
against and to the flow
with the lines and with the walls of earth
with bucketfuls of whitewash splashed
howling mute slap-dash
from my sponge – suitcase
from my hand to my eye
from Pierre to Christian
from Jean to Charles
and from Asger to Scylla

I saw
I see the path
winding its way
through the oaks and pines
I saw it
I see it begin at the barbershop in Dublin
It’s there

in front of my eyes
as I sit on my chair
leaning my back against the dried mud wall
unmoving I keep on walking
my foot on the high plain
the least movement a word

on the ground of a bark
I read the signs of renewal
I read once more the bark of the platonic incense
on the trunk of the ravine
I read the shadow and the shadow’s movement
the ravine’s coal color movement
a fire a washed fire a lava
the woman dressed like a wood-path fairy
wearing her serpent skin
between the oaks and pine
she leads a grey donkey to which she’s tied Camilla and Xo
her two young children
the woman dressed like a fairy has vanished from the path
leaving me silence and wine
crystal clearly I see the earthen path
under the crystal clear sky
grain after grain
the exposure to light is perfect
an exceptional print

this picture
this path
between the white figures and the midget trees
where all holds
where I said I photographed the falling sky
the infinitely small against the infinite
the water and the shadow of the branches
the branch-gills of the trees upswept by the wind

what I see
the figures of trees and wolves
--- a tree --- a figure ---
--- a second tree --- a second figure ---
--- dust of the ground --- dust of the sun
my heart in secret palpitates
waiting to be reborn
waiting to disappear
a word each December sky
crystal clear December
of my days and my cheeks afire

those I belong to have vanished
washed figures

with full words
of the figures of the shadows
taking on colors
shadows growing roots
now white
now black becoming alive
etched stars
bridges of saliva
on the moving sky of the fixed stars
steel cranes with star like hooks
lying on my back
my feet among the plastic shards
pine needles raining from the inverted sky
crystal snowflakes of a miniature Montmartre plastic dome in hand
the two sides of the sky now one
what I see here I see elsewhere

the path where the woman fairy vanished
pulling behind her the grey donkey carrying her children
blindly I see serpentine
among the figures and the trees
lying low the wolves of Muxa Uxi

piston of sigh
the sun lights the spark to the gas fumes of sleep
the dream in the staircase of the dream
one night pushed me in the back
like the neighing of a horse rolling its back in the dust
tinkles the rock hit by a finger of lightning
imagine ô Shakespeare a summer night from June to June next
silk and satin linen
perfume silver hand-bells
floating under my feet with cushions of velvet
beneath the red and green Hazeltrees
children run after wild strawberries
Urawe branch of my arms

on the theatre’s stage or in a novel
when the novel is yet a prose poem
this lovely disposition of things
the curtain is up at last
the beautiful intention
smoke is dispersed at last
on the refinement at the vortex’s edge
red and green
skin open and shut
we live off interferences
star’s short
bark’s medium
underground’s long

temaïku akurri (“do not despair young man”)

(arrival of Yukaïma
Yukaïma niece of Xaureme
accompanied by Tutunyïeli
grandaughter of Xaureme ---
6th of December --- end of the poem)

Mexico 2011

notes by author 

For the Huichol Indians, the place called Muxa Uxi , a vast chalky clearing, is the place where wolves lay low “disguised as sheep”. It is situated in the state of Jalisco, right at the heart of the Western Sierra Madre, close to the San Andrès ceremonial centre. Urawé means wolf. 

As concerns the Huichol Indians and their culture, they are distant cousins of the vanished Aztecs and closely related to the Pueblo Indians. The referential studies are those led by Carl Lumholtz, 1851 – 1922, Konrad Preuss, 1869 – 1938, as well as those led by Robert Mowry Zingg, 1900 – 1957. Recently, Fernando Benitez, 1912 – 2000, Phil C. Weigand, 1937 – 2011, and Peter Furst, have accomplished an impressive body of work. 
Logosnow and Logosand are neologisms created by the poet Christian Dotremont, 1925-1979, founder, in the late 1940s, of CoBrA, the artistic movement. 
I the watchman A gitur, an allusion to Igitur, the well known poem by Stéphane Mallarmé.

[a further note by the editor. A writer & photographer of singular accomplishment Ivan Alechine has spent much of the last twenty years in close association with the Huichol Indians of the Sierra Madre Occidental in western central Mexico.  More recently he has focused on one particular community of Huichols closed off to all investigation, whether ethnographic or photographic, since that led, in 1934, by American anthropologist Robert M. Zingg.  His first photographic album, Poca Luz, “on the theme of a Mexico having gone astray, a cold and industrial Mexico,” appeared in 2010.  Of an earlier work of his, Les Voleurs de pauvres (The Robbers of the Poor), Claude Lévi-Strauss wrote: “An ethnographic novel in which literature allows one to accede to an authentic reality and to its more complete understanding. The book offers a very forceful depiction of the present condition of many indigenous peoples.”  So too for his work in the present. (J.R.)]

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