Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Izy's Out of Standard challenge: no snow

Over at the Imaginary Garden with Real Toads, for her Out-of-Standard challenge, Isadora Gruye has asked that members and contributors use the name "Eskimo" in a poem, without using or making reference to the word snow.
This, then, is something of a North American folktale, involving a First Nations person in the far north and a French Canadian person from farther south, which I have rewritten, with no intention of slighting the First Nations people, the French Canadian people, or religion in general.

My use of the French language might not be entirely correct, even though I asked my Anglo-French (educated in Montreal) husband for help. Some mockery, however, of the tourism industry might possibly be found herein.

once there was a tourist
lost in The Great North Waste—
he cried out, “mon dieu, aidez moi!”
but he saw no sign of any god...

Wikimedia Commons
he saw a great white owl,
which swooped toward him,
flew off toward the south,
then swooped toward him again,
back and forth
back and forth
to him and to the south,
several times,
many times.

exhausted from
shooing the owl away,
the tourist cried “mon dieu, aidez moi!”
but still saw no sign of any god...

that night he saw a bright star
hanging in the sky
moving closer and closer
to the southern horizon
as the earth moved.
shading his eyes from its brightness
he tried to get some rest
until morning, when the star was gone.

ever so very tired
from his restless night,
he cried in his exhaustion, “mon dieu, aidez moi”
over and over
and over again,
until he could cry no more,
and gave up.

the next thing he knew,
someone was shaking his shoulder,
“wake up,” said a voice, “wake up!”
and someone shook him again.
“pourquoi?” he mumbled
“je suis désolé, je ne reviens pas”

Wikimedia Commons
 “wake up,” said the voice
 again, and again,
 until he opened his eyes
 and saw an Esquimaux
 standing beside a sled
 covered with fur blankets.

“ah, monsieur, vous avez m’aidez!
 merci beaucoup, monsieur Esquimaux,”
and he continued to thank him
until they had travelled
to the nearest town
where the tourist’s wife
and children
and mother-in-law
were crying, “le bon dieu,
 il toi a sauvé,
 le bon dieu, il toi a sauvé!”

but the tourist insisted
that it had not been
any god who had saved him,
it had been an Esquimaux
who had finally found him.

“monsieur l’esquimaux m’a sauvé”
he stated firmly,
whereupon a voice
issued from the clouds,
and the Northern Lights
bounced to the rhythm of the voice:

“I sent an owl
 to  lead you to safety,
 but you chased
 the owl away.
 then I sent a star
 to lead you to safety
 but you hid your face
 from the star.”

“ but mon dieu, mon dieu,”
stuttered the tourist
“I remember, I was not saved
 until monsieur l’esquimaux...”

“and who do you think,”
thundered the voice
from the heavens:
“who do you think it was
 who sent the Eskimo?”
this adaptation by Kay L. Davies, December, 2013                


Marian said...

ooh kay, i love this! clever and funny, and touching as well. i just love the lines here:

“I sent an owl
to lead you to safety,
but you chased
the owl away.
then I sent a star
to lead you to safety
but you hid your face
from the star.”

that's really a statement. love this.

hedgewitch said...

I often wonder about the things people do for fun--touristing in frozen wastes, queuing up to climb Mt. Everest, etc. I enjoyed the folk feel of this Kay, and the wry tone.

Susan said...

I've heard a variation of this story in Jewish culture and LOVE reading it here. Who, indeed? Ha!

Anonymous said...

I like this retelling of a classic tale, Kay :) ~

Sherry Blue Sky said...

I so love the remake. Especially as it has owls and Eskimos........

Isadora Gruye said...

This piece has your flare for wit and voice all over it. I enjoyed reading this so much, thanks for sharing!!!!!

Hannah said...

I didn't realize this was based on a classic tale...or at least that's what M makes it seem like but your notes don't say that...

Any way.

Your summation was really moving in the explanation of the owl, the star and the Eskimo...

Such deep truths in this and the foreign language causes a bit of mystery before the revealing end.

Great write, Kay!

Kay said...

Kay, you are amazing! And you speak French too! Wow! This is a wonderful adaption of that story, beautifully told.

Friko said...

Brilliant! I think you outdid yourself here.

I also caught up on the previous post. I am so sorry that Lindy is showing signs of ageing.
I don’t think you’ll ever be ready for what is inevitable. Take as much joy rom her as you can.

Leslie said...

Oh, this was VERY clever :)

Helen said...

I thoroughly enjoyed your epic tale! Including the French which I assume is perfect.

Vagabonde said...

This is a neat retelling of a lovely story – I like your using bilingual text. Now, I’ll tell you the correct way to use the French, if you like. Let’s see – first of all I don’t know what you mean when the tourist is shaken up – you say - je suis desolé, je ne reviens pas. Je ne reviens pas means I am not returning, what do you mean? Do you mean he is lost? That would be: je suis desolé, je me suis perdu, or j’ai perdu mon chemin.

Next you say: “ah, monsieur, vous avez m’aidez! merci beaucoup, monsieur Esquimaux,” correct French would be : ah, monsieur, vous voulez m’aider? Or ah, monsieur, vous allez m’aider? (you want to help me, or you are going to help me)

Next you say: “le bon dieu, il toi a sauvé, le bon dieu, il toi a sauvé!” it is “le bon dieu, il t’a sauve” not toi. As you are right when you say, il m’a sauvé, so it is il t’a sauvé, same thing.

I heard this story told as someone in a New Orleans flood with different people trying to save him. I hope you are not upset I am correcting your French.

Margaret said...

!! A story we repeat time and again! Very nice.

Mama Zen said...

I adore this, Kay!

Susie Clevenger said...

How adorably clever! This definitely made me smile.