Mon | Jul 16, 2018

A poet’s romance with nature

Published:Sunday | June 4, 2017 | 12:00 AM


Title: At the Tick of Twilight

Author: Orette. C. Burke

Critic: Dr Glenville Ashby


At The Tick of Twilight is a romantic monologue that celebrates femininity in its myriad forms. Nature in all her splendour replenishes, her plentitude is seemingly inexhaustible, she is magnanimous and embracing, and she is unconditional love.

Nature is science; nature is humanity. And she is best revered in the image of the female body. Orette C. Burke's words are dramatic, colourful, and fluid.

He can be overpowering and unforgiving in his quest to drink from nature's fountain of love. His relentlessness is weighty, and we must recoil if only for a moment.

Burke's romance with love demands that we listen, reflect. His words, his oratory are palpable. He is emotive, passionate, and unbending. He is aesthetically delicate like the petals that he so vividly describes. He is dolefully emotional like some of the grey atmosphere that smothers the bleeding heart.

Burke is a wordsmith, and he delightfully and unabashedly displays his unique talent. His words marvel and confound alike. Hyperbolic and verbose they can be. Burke is determined that we see beauty through his prism. Eventually, we follow suit.

"My beloved comes from the pulp of my tender lilac years the scent of apricots, peaches, and pears from a delicate orchid's morning song," he shares in 'My Beloved'; and in like vein, he writes in 'Love and Nature', "I want a love that paints a graffiti on the walls of my soul ... I want a love that scaffolds the tiers and layers of me that sketches worlds upon belief beyond the threaded seas and sits gently among the seasons with green emotions and scarlet reasons ..."




But Orette's soft desires give way to a more aggressive thrust. His words brim with uncharacteristic rawness and lust in 'Erotica'. " ... and sniff your ambrosial essence subdue you to my cravings; thaw you to a nakedness of pearl and pulp in bliss and ravage you with tenderness; your warmth my hungry lips uncover you beyond silence; defile your delicate innocence ..."

Orette, though, is never raunchy. Deftly risquÈ, he is, as evident in 'Between the Light'.

"She whispers groans with heels and skirts; he hides his animal behind his gird; when sundry shadows have ravaged the light; and the office relieves itself of sight. A summit's surrender lavish and rapacious loosens her strings with rhythms voracious; His chords when lit with carnal touch ..."

He manages to cool off and offers glimpses of his formative years in 'Those Days and I Come From'. And there are flashes of island culture and Jamaican argot. But Orette appears uncomfortable and must shift gear. He later rallies with some of Twilight's most artful pieces.

He summons his muse and is at his compelling best in 'Meta-Moon', an esoteric rendition of God's immanence. With exhortations reminiscent of verses from the Quran, he intones, "The crystal moon ... sits and smiles at every crevice of darkness. Even the panes of my window had to confess. It asks: 'Where are your words to give them rest? How will you inspire them ...? Do they not acknowledge the grandeur of the heavens? That there's beauty to the extent of seventy times seven ...'"

In the provocative 'Untitled', he ably captures the dark night of the soul as did the inimitable 'St John of the Cross'. "Sometimes in the silence of sombre nights I gaze into the labyrinth of solitude; swaying like the clouds of celestial unrest; searching the semblance of the seven seas, languidly I plod in the heart of the moon ..."

And he defers to 'Providence in Shakespearean Life: "Life the slow and smooth curve of ticking time," he writes, "the rugged hills of darkness and peaceful plains of glaring light; timely and gently turns the pages of this book; its meaning shadowed in the threshold of consciousness ..."

Surely, we can inveigh against Burke's overarching desire to be understood. His words are sometimes inexorably winded as he wrestles to get our attention. Here, we recall his interestingly forgettable 'You and I are Chemistry' and the anomalous, 'Bath (Dedicated to Lorna Edwards)'.

But his work captures the essence of being. Burke's makes an ontological statement. Bereft of nature we are empty shells, void of sense and sensibilities - void of existence, he cautions us.

At The Tick of Twilight is a poetic monument that cries for attention. Nature never fails to unfold its glory before us. Yes, the Divine lays bare Its magnificence for all to behold. If only we knew. Indeed, blessed are those who understand this mystery.

Ratings: Recommended

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