Thursday, August 25, 2011

Aimless Reading: The O's, Part 5.13 (Charles Olson)

Bolderoff, Frances & Olson, Charles
Charles Olson and Frances Bolderoff: A Modern Correspondence

Purchased at Talking Leaves...Books, probably in 2004. I know this because tucked between pages 84 and 85 is a bus ticket, dated 05/01/2004 Lunes (European dating, so this is January 5). It was for a bus trip from Mérida, Mexico to Chichén Itzá, on the Yucatán Peninsula.

Lori and I traveled around the Yucatán for ten days in early January 2004. We flew into Cozumel where we spent the first night among the many cruise ship passengers that exited the boat for all of about sixty minutes in a foreign land.

It was kind of sad, really.

Disembarking on a pier about twenty feet above the ground, they crossed at that same height over the Main Street in groups of twenty or so, all of them wearing color-coordinated name tags and being shepherded along by a cruise director wearing the same color tag into a shopping mall selling trinkets from all over Mexico (though I think they mostly bought cheap diamonds and Tequila), in which everyone spoke english and charged about ten times the amount the vendors on the street below did. After making their purchases, they boarded the ships and disappeared to their cabins to discuss their "visit" to Mexico.

Our package included ten nights in a hotel, so we left all our bags in the room and took off for the mainland on the second day. I remember getting seasick on the ferry. I ended up downing enough dramamine to put an elephant to sleep. Come to think of it, I got motion sickness on the first leg of the flight, from Buffalo to New York. We flew on one of those old propellor planes that used to be the norm on that route. About thirty minutes before landing I had to put a bag over my mouth. I did not throw up, but I was sure that had we stayed in the air a minute longer than we did, I would have.

So, we took a bus to Mérida, a great little coastal town on the opposite end of the Yucatán from Cozumel (which is an island, by the way), and we spent about five days hitting as many ruin sites as we could: Chichén Itzá , Uxmal, Tulum and Cobá. At the latter we rented mountain bikes and road them around the forest all day, which was a blast.

After visiting the ruins, we ended up back in Cozumel for a few days. We laid on the beach and rented a scooter, which we road endlessly in circles around the island, and we tried to sample all the best foods we could find. We ate some spectacular Mole sauces!

I can't recall whether I had this book with me or if I started reading it after we returned. One of the poems in my first book, "A Note on Utopia," came directly from one of Bolderoff's letters to Olson.

from Charles Olson and Frances Bolderoff: A Modern Correspondence

This letter is from Bolderoff to Olson, unsigned

Woodward to Washington
15 December 1949 (postmark)

My bedroom streams full of light--it is very Woodward quiet and I am absolutely alone except for the very soft falling of the coal into ash

I send you from an Egyptian legend of creation--

"I lifted myself up from the watery mass, out of inertness.
I diod not find a place where I could stand.
I was alone.
I took courage in my heart.
I laid a foundation.
I made every form.
Many were forms coming forth my mouth."


"There are saamu-flowers in my wreath.
One is uplifted in their presence.
I am thy first sister.
I am unto thee like the acre
Which I have planted with flowers
And all manner of sweet-smelling herbs;
And in it is a pool which thy hand has digged.
In the cool of the North Wind,
It is a lovely place where I walk.
Thine hand upon mine, and my body satisfied,
And my heart glad at our going together.
It is mead to me to hear thy voice,
An dI live because I hear it.
If I but see thee
It is better to me than eating or drinking."

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