Wednesday, November 26, 2008


I dreamed that a group of wild boars—des sangliers—were drinking from the stone water basin in my garden. One of them, unusually large and stately, had long tusks and an ebony fur coat. What a strange dream I thought upon waking.

Next morning, when walking to my garden in the valley below our village, I met a hunter with his dogs who said that roaming boars had damaged a field near my spring.

without rain
a maze of cracks
riddles the earth
green fields pale
into burnt sienna

As I was painting ochre pigment onto the walls of my little stone cabanon at dusk, I heard some crackling of branches, as though someone were coming to visit. Sometimes Madame Bosio brings me iris roots or comes with her dog to chat a while. The cabanon was still open. I put all my rakes, shovels and paint brushes away. A box with walnuts and quinces was ready to be brought home to the kitchen.

I was ready to go and there, drinking from my stone basin of clear spring water, was a large boar with his clan—just as in my dream. I stood very still in surprise, amazed at their strength and bearing, when I heard a soft grunting sound from the great grandmother which sounded to my astonished ears as follows: “Do protect us from these hunters. We know you are not one of them. Each night we come to drink and rest on your land.”

“What can I do?” I said.

“Let us stay this night in your cabanon. Tomorrow, it being Sunday, the hunters will be up early. They won’t find us and we will be safe, until you come to open the door. When they all go home for their sacré déjeuner, we can run free, eat, drink and go to another of our secret hiding places.”

“Excellent idea,” I grunted, “Let’s do as you wish.” And I spread dry lavender hay on the floor of the cabanon and let them all enter with a big welcome. They settled in comfortably for a good night’s rest.

do we come from
where do we go
between lime cliffs
a flicker of light

Next morning early the hunters looked up and down the valley—not a sanglier in sight! One of them, Moretto by name, wandered over to the cabanon to check it out. Tiles on the roof, a fresh ochre pigment wash on the back wall, iris planted in front and—ma foi—a new window!

I wonder what is stored in there, he thought. Carefully, he put his nose to the windowpane. Behind the glass a giant face, dark with reddish gleaming eyes and enormous tusks, stared back at him.

Barbe de Dieu . . . Pieds de Marie,” he shouted, turned and, glancing back once, took to his heels, running uphill all the way to the village . . . where no one believed a word he said. He started early on his red wine today, they winked.

within the wild
footprints of foxes
and boars
through an oak grove
to a hidden spring

Meanwhile I got up at eight as usual—breakfast, and work in my studio. Just before noon, I remembered my promise to liberate the sanglier clan. Quickly I ran downhill, through fields and vineyards, taking shortcuts, arriving out of breath to open the cabanon door.

And who was waiting there to greet me? Why Moretto, who had turned into a wild boar!

He spoke in his own Provencal French: “Maya, you must save me or I will have to stay in this form forever. It is my punishment for hunting sangliers for fifty years. Do kiss me on the forehead, please . . . .”

A just punishment? Well, I’ll be darned if ever you should catch me planting a kiss on that scrubby brow.

from human form
a wizened peasant
no longer endangering
untamed creatures

by Giselle Maya
Saint Martin de Castillon, France

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