Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Cutting the Sun - Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni

     After Francesco Clemente's Indian Miniature #16

The sun-face looms over me, gigantic-hot, smelling
of iron. Its rays striated,
rasp-red and muscled as the tongues
of iguanas. They are trying to lick away
my name. But I
am not afraid. I hold in my hands
(where did I get them)
enormous blue scissors that are
just the color of sky. I bring
the blades together, like
a song. The rays fall around me
curling a bit, like dried carrot peel. A far sound
in the air - fire
or rain? And when I've cut
all the way to the center of the sun
I see
flowers, flowers, flowers.

Francesco Clemente is a contemporary Italian artist, and this poem is in response to a bit of his art, which sadly, I was unable to find for you to view.  Instead, we will have to make due with Divakaruni's beautiful poem after that painting from which she drew inspiration.

The image is fantastic, someone cutting the sun itself open with massive blue scissors, finding flowers at its heart.  What can we take from this?  I think there are two things at play: the poem is a way out fantastical account of gardening, and on the other hand, it speaks to the generative powers of the sun, and how all life comes from it.  The descriptions of the sun are physically grounded in the senses, the sun is "gigantic-hot, smelling of iron."  The narrator sweats under its rays, almost losing identity against its overwhelming power.  What's really happening on a narrative level?  I'd imagine it's just a gardener cutting flowers, sweating under the sun.

On a more symbolic level?  It's a reminder that the sun, and destruction (culling, clipping, burning) leads to new life.  Flowers, flowers, flowers.  Fire, rain, no matter, it all brings life in the end.  It's a fascinating image, and works well with the image of a sweating gardener.

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