Giralda


Back in Canada,
I discover one poem is missing.

Left in some cafe in Córdoba?
Or slipped behind a lacy bed in Rhonda’s hills?

Trying to recapture
the rhythm of the lines, the proper order.

Some progression, I remember,
from tired horses pulling carriages of tourists

to the massive square cathedral in Sevilla—
which replaced the Moorish Mosque

but clung to its Giralda
and crowned it, in the Renaissance, with bells—

to marmalade in childhood, the way Mother said it,
accent on the first syllable: Séville.

to the Cariboo of British Columbia
and Purdy’s golden oranges of dung.


Questions and Answers

What inspired “Giralda”?

I think what kicked-started this poem was the word itself. I liked it. (You don’t pronounce the G… you say it rather like an H, so it’s a soft word.) Giralda is Spanish for “the turning one.” Originally, it referred to the weathervane (which turns) on top of a square tower which is beside the cathedral in Seville. Eventually, the tower itself became known as the giralda.

I remembered the way my mother pronounced the word Seville, and that made me think of oranges (as in orange marmalade), and that made me think of a poem by Al Purdy, which he says the Cariboo horses produce “golden oranges of dung.” My poem was a way of linking all those things up.

What poetic techniques did you use in “Giralda”?

This is a poem about memory. The memory of the first poem I wrote (and lost). The memory of my mother’s way of saying Seville. The memory of Al Purdy’s poem.

There are a lot of words in this poem that end in a, you’ll notice—Giralda, Canada, Rhonda, Cordoba, Sevilla, Columbia. I think that helped bring it together as well.


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