Robert Kroetsch is standing before me.
Robert Kroetsch is standing before me, again.
I sent him a text message, so we could meet.
We could talk.
He always seemed to arrive first.
Now, he’s standing there.
And, I’m talking to him. We’re in Windsor.
I’ve talked with him before, in Toronto, in London.
He always seems to get there first. Once.
It was cold. He’d say, “Cold enough to freeze the nuts off an iron bridge.”
We were talking. We were outside.
He was cussing, cussing and cleaning ice off the windshield on his car.
Cussing up a storm, scraping the iced-over glass.
I wanted to ask him about Greece and Spain, but thought twice about it.
I knew that he had visited Greece, and Spain.
I wanted to ask him about postcards, and Gaudy, and Gaudi.
But I thought twice.
He was making headway on the windshield.
The scraper threw ice fragments onto his face, onto his glasses.
He cussed, and closed his eyes and kept scraping.
Ice.

I wanted to ask him, if he knew whether
Frederic Goudy was related to Antonio Gaudi?
Or, was it just a homophonic thing.
Frederic, the quiet bookman, printed
studied letters, the type and design of his time.
Antonio spent the time of his life
transforming a rocky hillside in Barcelona
into a labyrinth of walkways,
serpentine retaining walls,
ovalesque grottoes,
a typography of earth and mind,
an architectural rendering of flamenco tessellations,
swirling lines,
and rising planes kerned in kinetic chthonic exclamations.
The master-carver’s hammers, a staccato clapping rhythm.
The striking of keys — a music of paper and rock.
There are, of course, other stories of a different type.
Garamond.
Bookman.

Along came Goudy.
A book is a book is a book,
sans-serif or not —
an arresting thought
when caught in stone.
And, later, Gaudi’s Church of the Sagrada Familia took shape.
A surrealist ejaculation of filigreed rock
made singing, with priapic arches, intaglio towers,
erections of unqualified love. A song sung in stone.
A stone key.
A key of stone.
Set singing on my Olivetti.
A Roman arch, in italic times.
Such thoughts, inscribed in lead type
hung heavy once;
but when impressed upon whitened sheets, fly high
over Gaudi’s brightened sky
recalling the quick swivel,
of the mason’s chisel,
above the staccato flamenco stone,
returning instantly with the strike of a key,
and a ringing,
with the clap of a hand.

 

 

* Goudy, Frederic William, 1865-1947. Goudy excelled at his craft(s) as an American printer, bookman and type-designer.

** Gaudi, Antonio (Gaudí y Cornet), 1853-1926. A Spanish architect and designer, Gaudi began work on the Church of the Sagrada Familia in 1884. The building is still under construction.

(2020)