Thank you to Wolsak & Wynn for making this book available to me at the 2014 Toronto Word on the Street Festival
We take nature for granted, there is no doubt in that. It takes a few carefully considered phrases to awaken us on our ignorance. And that is what John Terpstra has done in this Orchard Sound.
I come to the garden alone, garden,
of fruit, fruit of the tree: apple, pear,
peach, plum, cherry. The March earth
is a mulch of last autumn, a half-frozen
mass of leaves and produce that’s yet
attracting birds, if that’s
what the birds are after-
there are so many! lifting off,
landing, chatting like crazy,
making this orchard sound
like a major event
and in a little while,
damned trees still believe
is possible? the power of prayer,
that the same old story
bears repeating, adding to
the two-grand anno domini
of borrowed time
we already have?
While this is a small book, Terpstra has spoken volumes here. He attention here is focussed on an orchard that is about to be destroyed by human development. He has crafted phrases here that clearly show his feelings to our mind’s eye.
And at the orchard’s heart
the ear is hounded by inhuman sound
a six-lane highway bass, breathing out
its monotone continuo of HNHNHNHNAAAAAAAAAA
while at the nearer lights, cars kneel
and throb their mocking yukyukyukyukyukyuk
as from the rooftops, heating units,
air conditioners, snicker the ozone
and the glazed eyes of office buildings
what bright sun?
One can feel the anguish and pain in Terpstra’s thoughts. He describes each image with clarity that we can empathize with him.
I come by a tree, recently mauled, mangled
by cut and tear, and the familiar bramble
of loped branches, so fresh
it seems the buds might still unfold,
that what little life remains
is enough to blossom.
But after these
events, this past
six weeks, I burst
Who hath wounded thee?
Tell me, that I may take my blade,
its sharp teeth. . .
And the riled stillness
breaks, for once, and from all around birds
unfurl their wings, come flying in,
gather and land on the crazy busted branches,
talking it up;
and for once
I actually begin to make out
what they say; they say
but Nay, sir,
While it is a small book, this Orchard Sound by John Terpstra is a volume that speaks volumes. His phrases are powerful and illuminating. A pleasure to read.