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Sunday, February 26, 2012

Anne Michaels - Fugitive Pieces - excerpt from Part I

Each of my first three selections has evoked the sounds of nature in a different way. My last selection is not really a poem, but an excerpt from the "poetic" novel Fugitive Pieces by Anne Michaels (who is also a poet). Seven year old Jakob Beer has escaped from a holocaust atrocity during which the rest of his family were killed - he is alone in the forest, and dependent upon all his senses for survival. He remembers the attack and misses most his sister Bella. For me, this evocation of the terror of the forest at night invokes all the senses - I can hear it, see it, smell it, taste it, feel it........  

Lawrence Casserley.

Anne Michaels - Fugitive Pieces - excerpt from Part I

I couldn't keep out the sounds: the door breaking open, the spit of buttons. My mother, my father. But worse than those sounds was that I couldn't remember hearing Bella at all. Filled with her silence, I had no choice but to imagine her face.

The night forest is incomprehensible: repulsive and endless, jutting bones and sticky hair, slime and jellied smells, shallow roots like ropy vines.

Draping slugs splash like tar across the ferns; black icicles of flesh.

During the day I have time to notice lichen like gold dust over the rocks.

A rabbit, sensing me, stops close to my head and tries to hide behind a blade of grass.

The sun is jagged through the trees, so bright the spangles turn dark and float, burnt paper, in my eyes.

The white nibs of grass get caught in my teeth like pliable little fish bones. I chew fronds into a bitter, stringy mash that turns my spit green.

The forest floor is speckled bronze, sugar caramelised in the leaves. The branches look painted onto the onion-white sky. One morning I watch a finger of light move its way deliberately across the ground.

I know, suddenly, my sister is dead. At this precise moment, Bella becomes flooded ground. A body of water pulling under the moon.

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