Our Images of Things
A train ride through the south of France isn’t
what you’d expect. Taking the night route
from Barcelona to Avignon, we watch the sky bruise
into an elegant gloaming. All along, the tracks are laid
on the surface of the water, running through marshes where
ancient French oaks grow gnarled on tiny islands, escaping
their fate of becoming wine barrels, bent into irons,
mellowing Burgundy or Bordeaux for thirsting strangers.
For every field of lavender, clusters of industrial block buildings
appear covered in graffiti, surrounded by barbed wire.
A train ride through the south of France is
ancient oaks growing gnarled on the tiniest of islands.
Even in this place, nothing stays. Roots rot in the water.
Our images of things are too imperfect to bear: too soft,
too much shaped by our feeble senses, whittled down by utility.
The bleary conductor wakes us at the station: Nous sommes ici.
by Eliot White
Editor’s Note: This gigan poem concentrates on the image of movement so that by the end of the poem, the notion of being somewhere is here, in this singular moment.
The gigan poetic form was invented by poet Ruth Ellen Kocher and is named after a monster in Godzilla. The poem is 16 lines. The lines are broken into couplet, tercet, couplet, couplet, couplet, tercet, couplet. Line 1 is repeated as line 11. Line 6 is repeated as line 12. The closing couplet puts a twist on the poem.