Wednesday, December 19, 2007

poem for jpk - the shattered mirror


by jason brown, editor, avaiki nius agency

It was, as promised, a small and simple ceremony.

Gathered around an empty grave, tombstone in place, friends of the Couraud family, about 20 in all.

"This is the time he was ..."

The mother of Jean-Pascal Couraud pauses, searching her French memory for the right word in English.


"Yes, kidnapped," agrees his mother, stepping across the syllables carefully, like a goat on a mountain, fearful not of the plunge, but of forgetting to be careful.

"... the time he was kidnapped at this very hour, exactly ten years ago."

She peers upwards as she speaks, a small women for such enormous memories, shadows of frangipani falling across her shoulders, children surfing on even smaller waves in the background.

As happens so often in all our lives, she begins to say more but is distracted by a comforting hand.

Did he surf here too?

JPK's brother glances across his brother's empty grave, past other tombs, and whitewashed stones of the deceased less famous, to where the waves roll in; Mo'orea, sister island to Tahiti, looming hazy in the distance.

"Yes, but only when the waves were bigger."

He smiles, and like their smiles of welcome, their teeth are white, in tanned faces of rude health, somewhat disturbing for those unprepared for civility not grief, for warmth not sadness and loss in a place of such fragrant loveliness.

Earlier, a tribute is read out from a colleague, an original editorial from 1988 by JPK titled "Never again" and a peom by Jacques Prévert, a sardonic, punning poet taught to generations of French schoolchildren.

The shattered mirror is a pun in itself, defiance in the face of vandals who, earlier this year, drank and smashed their bottles on what little JPK has left in this world, oblivious to themselves, or how their actions reflect on us all.

No eternal flame, just small wickering candles, for a young man with an adopted acronym, Kennedyesque, in nature, doomed by real politik.

It was, as promised in the pages of the newspaper that sacked him more than a decade ago, a small and simple ceremony.

Le miroir brisé

Le petit homme qui chantait sans cesse
le petit homme qui dansait dans ma tête
le petit homme de la jeunesse
a cassé son lacet de soulier
et toutes les baraques de la fête
tout d'un coup se sont écroulées
et dans le silence de cette fête
j'ai entendu ta voix heureuse
ta voix déchirée et fragile
enfantine et désolée
venant de loin et qui m'appelait
et j'ai mis ma main sur mon coeur
où remuaient
les septs éclats de glace de ton rire étoilé.

The shattered mirror

The little man who sang ceaselessly
The little man who danced in my head
The little man of youth
Undid his shoe lace
And all the shacks of the feast
All of a sudden collapsed
And in the silence of this feast
I heard your happy voice
Your voice torn and fragile
Childish and sorry
Coming from afar, he who called me
And I put my hands on my heart
Where they trembled
From the seven ice chips of your starry laugh

Jacques Prévert

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