Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Where It Is Always Asia


This is a more-than-normal self-indulgent post as I love horses and I love Raymond Carver. Well, I love his writing and what I know of him, or think I know. He had a way of expressing moments of our shared lives that were either very unsettling or very affirming and often both at once. His poem, "Asia," for reasons I can't explain other than my pure love for horses and the ocean, is among my favorites.

I spent the spring of 2010 at a house on the Atlantic in Old Orchard Beach, Maine. I can still feel the pressing of waves against my heart as I stood on the shore watching. One day I walked out in time to see riders on horses as they made their way down the beach. I stood in awe of what felt like an incredible gift from the world itself.


"Asia"

It’s good to live near the water.
Ships pass so close to land
a man could reach out
and break a branch from one of the willow trees
that grow here. Horses run wild
down by the water, along the beach.
If the men on board wanted, they could
fashion a lariat and throw it
and bring one of the horses on deck.
Something to keep them company
for the long journey East.
From my balcony I can read the faces
of the men as they stare at the horses,
the trees, and two-story houses.
I know what they’re thinking
when they see a man waving from a balcony,
his red car in the drive below.
They look at him and consider themselves
lucky. What a mysterious piece
of good fortune, they think, that’s brought
them all this way to the deck of a ship
bound for Asia. Those years of doing odd jobs,
or working in warehouses, or longshoring,
or simply hanging out on the docks,
are forgotten about. Those things happened
to other, younger men,
if they happened at all.
The men on board
raise their arms and wave back.
Then stand still, gripping the rail,
as the ship glides past. The horses
move from under the trees and into the sun.
They stand like statues of horses.
Watching the ship as it passes.
Waves breaking against the ship.
Against the beach. And in the mind
of the horses, where
it is always Asia.

~ Raymond Carver







29 comments:

  1. This poem takes me there...by the ocean. And the photo of the horses running gives such a feeling of freedom and wild joy.

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    1. For me, it's a magical combination. Thanks, Cat.

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  2. That was fabulous .
    I love the photos of the horses free on the beach , and the photos of them resting on the shore. I would love to see horses doing that !

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    1. Hi Willow! The image of them resting on the sand is so good I feel I an reach out and touch them. Wish they were my photos ... and horses ... :)

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  3. Very nice and and if those are your pictures it makes it even better.

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    1. They are not my photos ... sure wish they were. So good to hear from you!

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  4. Beautiful poem and photographs. And if you can't be self-indulgent in your blog, where can you be?
    Have you ever beento Assateague Island? We watched the wild horses (ponies) running along the beach at sunset and it was a beautiful thing.

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    1. I suppose it's the very nature of blogging in many ways ... :)

      I have not been to Assateague, but a friend described his experience for me and it sounds magical. I loved the story, "Misty of Chincoteague when I was a child.

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  5. Hmm, is there any part of this country where you haven't lived? A journalism teacher once told me to get out of the Midwest for a while and soak up different experiences, cultures, landscapes, ways of living. I've traveled but not lived many places, so for example I've never seen wild horses on a beach. I'm glad you have, and that you are share through your words as well as poems and images.

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    1. Clarification: alas and alack, these are not my images and I haven't seen WILD horses on a beach, only horses with riders, but it was a wonderful experience. There are still places I'd love to spend extended time ... right now, I'm just happy to be present to this life, as it is now ...

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    2. Blissed-Out Grandma, I'm truly laughing. I'm just back from two weeks in Arkansas, Oklahoma and (mostly) Kansas. I went to the midwest! I traveled by car, with little schedule except the need to come home, and arrived home with a lot of gravel-road dust on the car. In the Flint Hills of Kansas, I found Teter Rock, and the fields stretched out below were filled with wild horses.

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  6. Wonderful coupling of image and words, Teresa. Wonderful.

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  7. What a wonderful poem. Horses and beaches just seem to go together. I follow a photographer who lives in Chile, and it seems much more common to see riders in the surf there.

    My favorite lines from the poem are these:

    I know what they’re thinking
    when they see a man waving from a balcony,
    his red car in the drive below.
    They look at him and consider themselves
    lucky. What a mysterious piece
    of good fortune, they think, that’s brought
    them all this way to the deck of a ship
    bound for Asia..

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    1. I love the image those lines conjures as well ... Thank you so much for your comment.

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  8. Reading this rich, evocative post I'm reminded of the most landlocked place I've ever lived, Irving, TX in the Dallas suburbs. People spontaneously gather there, no need of a special event, in a square that has a massive equestrian sculpture, said to be the biggest in the world (that sounds like Texas doesn't it?!).... The Mustangs of Las Colinas. 9 larger than life horses racing freely, all caught in different points of motion splashing through running water as if crossing a river, representing the pioneering spirit of the west. It's deeply satisfying and inspiring to sit and look at, the combination of horses and water.

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    1. That sounds like a wonderful sculpture ... I doubt I shall ever see it ... Dallas and all ... so I'm glad you shared the image of it with me. I can see why people would gather there...

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  9. Such a calming post. I like it. Horses are such beautiful animals. What could be better than riding a horse on a
    beach? Count me in.
    A side story. When I moved to my neighborhood many years ago there was actually a small horse stable and riding
    pasture not more than a quarter mile away. One day I see a horse running down the street in front of my house. Right behind were two boys about ten years old running after the horse. One carried a rope and the other a bridle. It was like a Norman Rockwell painting. Ten minutes later they come trotting back. Bridle is on the horse with both boys on the horse. Mission Accomplished.

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    1. You have the best stories. I LOVE that image you've conjured for me. Absolutely LOVE it. Another poem in the making ... :))

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  10. Have you ever thought about getting a horse? You have country property that a horse would love. -- barbara

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    1. I would need to get two to feel good about it and two would create quite a feed bill ... plus I know from past experience owning horses can also be frustrating. If they find a weak spot in the fence they go over ... see Steven's comment ... :)) It is a lovely thought, though. Thanks, Barbara.

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  11. I am as warm as toast after reading this . . . .

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  12. I love wild horses. They seem so much happier than the domestic variety. Great words here too. Wonderful

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    1. Everything wild seems happier than the domesticated variety. Even people. :))

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