I spent some time today reading Michael Ondaatje. Ondaatje is probably better known for his book, The English Patient. But far better than his prose, is his poetry. Filled with the minutiae of relationships and gestures. I felt like reading aloud one of my personal favourites – “Bearhug“.
Griffin calls to come and kiss him goodnight
I yell ok. Finish something I’m doing,
then something else, walk slowly round
the corner to my son’s room.
He is standing arms outstretched
waiting for a bearhug. Grinning.
Why do I give my emotion an animal’s name,
give it that dark squeeze of death?
This is the hug which collects
all his small bones and his warm neck against me.
The thin tough body under the pyjamas
locks to me like a magnet of blood.
How long was he standing there
like that, before I came?
— Michael Ondaatje
Why call a hug given with such love and wholesomeness a bearhug? A bearhug is usually so intense that it’s supposed to crush your bones and perhaps even kill you. The poem is so brief and filled with such wonder at the effortless seeking of love of a child, that to call it touching is an understatement. One of my other favourites by Ondaatje is “To A Sad Daughter“.
[Mp3 Download. (Right Click, Save As)]