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 a magazine of contemporary writing
■M
'
1:1
y - Prism
VOLUME ONE
NUMBER ONE
CONTENTS:
DRAWING Joseph Gapozio 6
THE TRAVELLING NUDE  Henry Kreisel 7
CIGARETTE GIRL   Raymond Souster 18
Three Poems: BEGINNING
TO THERESE
REHEARSAL   Alden A. Nowlan 19
Two Poems: NORMAN KING
NAN SUSAC Andrew Susac 20
ON THE BLOCK William Hall 21
TWO WALKS BY CITYSIDE   George Bluestone 36
LAURENTIAN MAN  Wilfred Watson 38
THE EMPEROR'S CIRCUS   Dorothy Livesay 42
VULTURES Ian Sowton 43
THEIR SIMPLE MINDS
SKIN TO SKIN Elizabeth A. Luckhurst 44
BANGKOK BOY Earle Birney 48
FIVE SONGS OF A FOOL Richard Watson 50 .
THE MERCHANT OF HEAVEN  Margaret Laurence 52 two
EDITORIAL BOARD
EDITOR Jan de Bruyn
Associate Editors Elliott B. Gose
Jacob Zilber
Heather Spears Goldenberg
MANAGEMENT
Managing Editor Jacob Zilber
Business Lome Shorter
Circulation Donald G. Stephens
Production Victor G. Hopwood
Design Norman Pearson
Treasurer Michael Booth
Special Funds Robert Harlow
Advertising Cherie Smith
Maurice Gibbons
Claire Sanford
Judy Brown
COVER DESIGN
Subject for our prismatic cover design is
Pamela Hawthorn, with photographs and design
by Norman Pearson.
ART WORK
Joseph Capozio, whose work appears on page
six, has travelled in Italy, Switzerland and France,
and is now an art instructor in San Francisco.
FOUNDING SUBSCRIBERS
Mr. A. E. Grauer
Mrs. E. W. Hamber
Mr. Leon J. Koerner
Mr. Walter C. Koerner
Prism is an independent quarterly publication, published by the Prism Board. Annual subscriptions are $3.50, single copies, $1.00, and may be obtained by writing to the Circulation Manager,
3492 West 35*/i Avenue, Vancouver 13, British Columbia, Canada. MSS should be sent to the
Editor,'at the same address and must be accompanied by a self-addressed, stamped envelope. three
EDITORIAL
The contents of this first issue of Prism speak far more eloquently
than any editorial could hope to do about our intention; yet—for such
is the vanity of editors—we cannot forego this opportunity to make
explicit our editorial credo. In future issues we will remain unobtrusively silent.
First, because there are too few literary periodicals which will
devote the whole of their space to imaginative writing, and because
the realm of criticism is, to say the least, adequately dealt with in
several ways, Prism publishes no critical articles or reviews. Second,
because as our title suggests, we are 'prismatic,' we do not confine
ourselves to any one color band in the literary spectrum, but will
provide for our readers all possible range in forms, techniques, themes
and styles that we can extract from our contributors. Consequently,
our first issue contains material not usually found in literary magazines
—the chapter from William Hall's novel, for example, and Wilfred
Watson's poem which takes up more space than most editors would
care to give to one poem; we are happy to give both the houseroom
they richly deserve. Similarly, we are actively seeking dramatic writing
of literary merit whether it is written for radio, television or the stage,
so that we may preserve in print what would otherwise be heard once
and thereafter forgotten. Third, the editors of Prism are deeply conscious of their responsibility to young people seriously interested in
writing and with gifts of mind and sensitivity which give value to their
work. We intend, whenever the opportunity arises, to introduce such
creative talent to our readers, as we have done in this issue with the
presentation of Richard Watson's Five Songs of a Fool and Elizabeth
Luckhurst's essay, Their Simple Minds Skin to Skin. Fourth, though
we are aware that literature is a serious business, and though we firmly
believe in the salutary effect of profoundly moving experience, we do
not intend to neglect the gayer colors of our spectrum, and will balance
the blues with sunny yellows. Witness Kreisel's The Travelling Nude,
Wilfred Watson's Laurentian Man, and Souster's Cigarette Girl. Fifth,
we subscribe to the axiom of good editing—that good writing with
impact, verve and guts is acceptable wherever it comes from. In this
issue we have writing from across Canada, and from parts of the
United States; we have the work of newcomers like Elizabeth Luck-
hurst as well as that of established writers like Earle Bimey.
Above all, we intend to make Prism lively, and not, in Joyce's phrase,
"chalkfull of master-plasters."
We welcome expressions of opinion from our readers, be they caustic
or laudatory, regarding our intention and our means of arriving at it. OUR CONTRIBUTORS
HENRY KREISEL
. . . born in Austria, 1922
. . . driven by Naziism to England; came to Canada in 1940
. . . has published articles, short stories and a novel, The Rich Man
(i949)
RAYMOND SOUSTER
. . . bank clerk in Toronto where he was born in 1921
. . . director, Contact Press, "the largest publisher of modern poetry in
Canada" and editor, Combustion, a poetry review
. . . recent publication: Selected Poems, Contact Press, 1957
ANDREW SUSAC
. . . primarily a playwright; nine plays produced in New Orleans,
Detroit and San Francisco; now head of the Theatre Department
of Magana Baptiste Academy of Integral Arts, San Francisco
. . . the two poems in Prism are his first published verse
ALDEN A. NOWLAN
. . . Nova Scotia-born, aged 26
.  . . presently edits a weekly in New Brunswick
. . . has published a number of poems in Canadian magazines and two
chapbooks: The Rose and the Puritan (University of New Brunswick) ; A Darkness in the Earth (E. V. Griffith, California)
WILLIAM HALL
. . . born and educated in England
. . . now teaches at the University of British Columbia
. . . verse published in The Grecourt Review and Caravan
. . . the novel chapter in Prism is his first prose publication
GEORGE BLUESTONE
. . . fiction writer and critic on the staff at University of Washington
. . . has appeared in The Atlantic, New World Writing, Sewanee
Review, Epoch, and Western Review
. . . author of a critical book, Novels into Film, Johns Hopkins Press,
J957
WILFRED WATSON
. . . achieved distinction with the volume of poetry, Friday's Child,
Faber and Faber, 1955
. . . teaches English literature at the University of Alberta five
DOROTHY LIVESAY
is currently studying in England
was recently featured, along with other Canadian poets, in
Threshold
ELIZABETH A. LUCKHURST
born in Port Alberni in 1938
studied two years at Victoria College, B.C.
taught last year in an Indian village in Northern B.C.
her essay, Their Simple Minds Skin to Skin, was presented as an
assignment in the Creative Writing course she was taking this past
summer at the University of British Columbia, and is her first
publication
EARLE BIRNEY
has been studying Chaucer in London for the past year •
between visits to the British Museum Reading Room has found
time to write and publish much new poetry
recent appearances: London Magazine, New Statesman, Times
Literary Supplement, Essays in Criticism, Saltire Review, Threshold, Atlantic Monthly and others!
has nearing publication another volume of poetry, Selected Poems,
to be brought out by McClelland & Stewart in Canada, and
Abelard-Schuman in England
IAN SOWTON
is "struggling with a doctoral thesis on Modern Verse Drama"
has published once in Fiddlehead and will be heard on C.B.C.'s
"Anthology" this Fall
suggests his chief claim to distinction is that he belongs to the same
department as Wilfred Watson and Eli Mandel
RICHARD WATSON
is twenty-three years old
reading for an M.A. in English at University of British Columbia
has published previously in Raven, U.B.C.'s student magazine.
This is his first professional publication
MARGARET LAURENCE
born in Neepawa, Manitoba in 1926
married a civil engineer whose work took them to England,
British Somaliland and Ghana
profession: housewifery and motherhood in Vancouver; devotes
much time to writing, especially about Africa
has appeared in Queen's Quarterly and Story  1
1
J
by henry kreisel
The only thing about the whole affair that worries me a bit is how
I am going to explain to my father why I threw up a good job. My
father is a very unimaginative man, and I know he has been brooding
about me for a long time. Now when he hears about the travelling
nude, he's quite likely to become momentarily deranged. But that, I'm
afraid, can't be helped.
Ever since the subject was first broached and the debate got passionate, splitting at least one husband and wife right down the middle,
I've had a very distinct impression of her. I admit it's quite ludicrous,
but you'll admit (though my father isn't likely to) that it has a certain
kind of charm. light
There she is. Quite good-looking. Not anything spectacular, you
understand. The pay is hardly good enough to attract anything like
that, and the conditions of work are not exactly first class. There's
a lot of travelling involved, and the work has to be done mostly in
small towns, pop. 1275 or 1423, and she has to stay in rather dingy
hotels, even though these hotels have fancy names, like the Ritz or the
Imperial. But she has a pretty good figure, nonetheless. Nicely proportioned. Breasts pretty firm, though perhaps now beginning to droop a
little, with the first flush of youth departed. A bit of a fatty fold starting
to show round her middle. But the buttocks still firm, and the thighs
round and full, and the legs long and shapely. A good nude, take it all
in all. Now she goes to all these little places, pop. 1500 and less, a
different place each week, and wherever she goes (my father is going
to find this hard to understand) she travels in the nude. She wears
nothing except a pair of high-heeled shoes. Even in the winter when
it's very cold. She's a travelling nude, you see. And she travels out of
Edmonton, Alta., pop. 250,000 or so, a fair-sized city.
She takes a taxi from the house she rooms in (that's part of allowable expenses) to either the C.P.R. or C.N.R. or Greyhound Bus
Station, and there she gets out, proud, head held high, but she's very
demure and a bit shy at the same time. So with a nonchalantly grand
manner she tips the taxi driver ten cents and walks into the station.
He's a bit pop-eyed, and so are most of the other people, but I never
worry very much about their reaction. She's accepted, more or less.
She's known as the travelling nude and that's all there is to it.
Sometimes, in the winter, I feel I'd like to drape a warm coat
around her, but I resist this impulse. She's a hardy soul. She can
stand the cold. Anyway, there she goes. Oh, I forgot to tell you. She
also carries a handbag. She is, after all, a woman. So she traipses up
to the ticket window, and says (her voice is husky, in a feminine,
though not exactly seductive way), "One ticket, return, to Great Fish
Lake, please." Or it might be Three Bear Hills, or Pollux or Castor,
or any number of other places, for she is constantly kept busy for
eight or nine months of the year. And then she rummages about in her
capacious handbag, pays for her ticket, looks somewhat disapprovingly
at the astonished clerk who gapes wide-eyed at her slightly drooping
breasts (the first flush of youth now gone), not knowing whether to
be scandalized or erotically aroused, and then walks over to the newsstand and buys, as is her custom, a copy of the Ladies' Home Journal or
Chatelaine or Vogue, for she must know what the well-dressed woman
wears this season, or what Dr. Blatz or Dr. Spock thinks this month
about the psyche of the pre-school child, or what delicious dishes can be concocted this week out of last Sunday's left-over roast. She is a
well-informed nude, you see, garnering up bits of useful information
as she travels by train or bus.
So she arrives at last in Great Fish Lake, or Three Bear Hills or
Castor, or Pollux, and gets off the bus or the train, and the station-
master and the local inhabitants look at each other knowingly and
say, "Oh, here goes the travelling nude. Guess there's going to be a
great deal of activity over at the Community Hall tonight," and they
smile and wink broadly at each other, but look very soberly as she
walks past them, and doff their hats and say, "Good afternoon, ma'm.
Not too cold for you, I hope," and she smiles back graciously, showing
as she does so a gap (unfortunate blemish!) in the upper row of her
teeth.
And the desk-clerk at the Great Fish Lake Imperial or the Three
Bear Hills Ritz, wooden buildings, once painted white, with name emblazoned in black block letters, looks down the main street and sees her
coming, and says to a man drowsing in a sagging, brown, cracked
leather chair, "There's the travelling nude. That means the old Community Hall is going to be all lit up tonight," and winks at the man
in the sagging chair, who rouses himself with a startled snore and looks
at her as she walks towards the hotel, balancing delicately on her high-
heeled shoes, her handbag now slung across her shoulder.
The desk-clerk has her key ready. "Same room as last time, ma'm.
14A." The number 13 is delicately skipped at the Great Fish Lake
Imperial or the Three Bear Hills Ritz.
She smiles her gap-toothed smile, thanks him, and taking her key,
walks up the stairs, and the two men look thoughtfully at her firm
buttocks swaying lightly from side to side as she mounts to the first
floor and lets herself into her room.
Once in, she sighs deeply and lies down on her bed. A long evening's
work now stretches before her, and she does not anticipate it with
particular pleasure. The work is tiring, and she feels tired already, even
before it's begun, for she's no longer quite as energetic as she once was.
Eveninsr comes. A few street lights in the main street ero on, and the
gray-haired, mustachioed caretaker gets everything ready, and then,
singly or in groups, they begin to emerge from the small houses in the
unfit streets or from farmhouses further away, making their way on
foot or in cars that bump along rutty roads, and so at last converge
upon the Community Hall, and, carrying satchels and sundry other
equipment, greet each other and go into the Hall and sit down busily
on chairs arranged in a wide semi-circle, and now, talking to each
other, they wait. There are pinched-looking women, resigned to spin- L
sterhood, and middle-aged matrons, their child-rearing task now done;
there are a few youngish couples, and two or three single men.
"Are we all here?" says a cheerful female voice. "Good. Now we
must really work tonight. She'll be here in a minute. Take advantage
of your opportunity. Remember, she won't be here for another six
months or so."
Out of the satchels come sheets of drawing paper and charcoal
pencils, and they all sit there, poised, expectant, ready for action.
The door opens and with stately steps, head held high, her bearing
almost regal, the travelling nude enters, makes her way smiling, as if
bestowing royal grace, to a chair in the middle of the semi-circle and
sits down. Her work has now begun.
"Now, class," says the cheerful female, who teaches in the local
elementary school during the day, "tonight we'll try and draw the
sitting nude. Tomorrow we'll draw the nude standing, and the day
after that the reclining nude. I hope you'll all be here again then, for
as Mr. Mahler told us, we cannot become painters without learning
to draw the human figure exactly, can we now?" And smiles all round
the semi-circle, and then nods pleasantly at the sitting travelling nude.
The travelling nude arranges herself on her chair, trying to make
herself as comfortable as possible. She now seems oblivious of the faces
staring at her. Each face now sees her from its own angle. There is a
pause while each drinks in the vision of "Figure. Female. Sitting.
Nude." At last they begin to sketch away, now satisfied, now frustrated; erase, start again; look over their shoulders to see what their
neighbors are doing, while all the while the cheerful female circulates
among them, admonishing, guiding, calling on the team to give their
all. "Be sure and remember that Mr. Mahler comes next month," she
cries, "and that we want to show him that we've really been making
progress."
So for three evenings they sketch the travelling nude until their
creative energies are quite exhausted, their paper all used up, their
pencils blunt.
Early in the morning, on the fourth day after her arrival, the travelling nude departs. She is glad the work for this week is over looks
forward to lounging about for a few days in Edmonton. She is quite
tired, for the accommodation is dingy, the food stale and steamy, and
the work is strenuous, exhausting even. And yet she knows that in the
following week she will set out again and spend three days in some
little town to help along the growth of culture in the land. eleven
II
Perhaps it would be better if I made up some commonplace story
and never said anything at all about the travelling nude to my father.
For if I told him the truth, I would only succeed in calling forth his
Job-like posture. On such occasions he sighs deeply, lifts his head
towards the ceiling of the room, as if God sat there in a corner, rolls
his eyes, and spreads his arms out wide, resigned to his martyrdom.
"Everybody has some cross to bear," he told me once. "You are my
cross." I'm sure he thinks I am mad.
It occurs to me that you might think so, too. Let me assure you that
I am as sane as you. I am an artist. My name is Herman O. Mahler.
I am aware that "Mahler" is the German word for painter. So perhaps
long ago one of my ancestors was a painter, and the thought that this
familial talent, after lying dormant for many generations, burst forth
again and manifested itself in me, makes me quite excited, creating a
bond between me and that remote ancestor whose name proclaimed
his art. My father sneered at the notion. So far as he knew or cared
to admit the Mahlers were all respectable businessmen, ever since the
first Canadian Mahler, my grandfather, established a general store in
Orillia, a small Ontario town. I myself was born in Toronto twenty-
seven years ago.
When I announced my intention of becoming a painter, my father
stormed up and down our living room, crying incessantly, "Why did I
slave all these years? For what? For what? What was the point?
What?"
I, for my part, kept on saying, "I don't see any logical connection
here," but he merely repeated, "Why did I slave all these years? For
what? For what?"
My mother didn't take any of this seriously. She thought my ambition would burn itself out. I was only seventeen at the time. But when
the flames burned even lustier, my mother, who is a realistic woman,
persuaded my father to let me go to the Ontario College of Art.
He looked the place over and was quite impressed by its size and
general air of stolidity. As he put it to my mother, "The building is
beautiful. Big solid pillars. Good stone. Nice trees all around. And the
inside, too. Respectable. Quiet. Clean. Not like those attics you hear
about. Well, maybe there's something to this art business after all."
I studied at the Ontario College of Art for three years, learned to
draw "Figure. Female. Reclining. Nude." "Figure. Female. Sitting.
Nude." Learned to work in oil, tempera, and various other media, took
several courses in the history of art, and emerged at last a duly certified Mahler. twelve
By the time I was twenty-four or twenty-five I had already passed
through several well-recognizable periods. My first period was the blue
period, and it is astonishing what nuances of blue I could produce.
My style then was generally realistic, although my father, on seeing
one of my paintings, exclaimed, "Blue horses! Why, that's impossible!
Who ever saw a blue horse?"
I moved on to my pink period and painted in pink more or less the
same subjects which I had hitherto painted in blue. "Pink horses!"
my father exclaimed. "Why, that's impossible! Who ever saw a pink
horse?"
I moved rapidly on to my Cubist period, in which I produced at
least one remarkable painting, a largish oil, entitled, "Nude Descending
Staircase," which practically caused my father to suffer an apoplexy
and to mutter darkly about fraud and the corruption of the young. It
was the title that annoyed him, for he could recognize no nude in the
picture itself. My mother contented herself with a clicking of her
tongue and a modest statement that these things were beyond her.
After my Cubist period came my Abstract period, and at last I felt
that I had found my style. Here imagination was not restricted. I felt
free, with all nature at my feet. I was a conqueror. Neither space nor
time could now contain me. My father was now quite certain that I
was mad.
In five years of painting I sold paintings totalling two hundred
dollars, and even my poor mathematical brain managed to compute
that this amounted to only forty dollars per annum. What was most
irksome, however, was the fact that since I continued to five at home
and was therefore in a manner of speaking a kept man, my father, who
was after all doing the keeping, felt himself entitled to keep up a consistent, sniping, carping sort of criticism about the noble art of painting
in general and my own activity in particular. He wondered why this
curse had been wished on his only son, for whom he had envisaged a
bright and rosy future in the retailing business. The idea that I was
carrying on the tradition established by a remote Mahler he dismissed
with contempt.
At last he began to insist that I earn my own living. What was I
to do ? I refused to prostitute my original, God-given talent, for I felt
that if I did so I would in some obscure way be betraying the honor
and integrity of that remote Mahler who had passed on his mantle to
me and was now watching to see what I would do with it. Imagine
my joy? therefore, when I read in an art magazine that the Extension
Department of the University of Alberta was looking for an Extension
lecturer in art, whose business it would be to travel the length and thirteen
breadth of the province and give a series of short courses (none longer
than a week) in various small towns. What marvellous vistas opened
up before me! I would be a true servant of the noble art of painting.
What hidden talents I would discover, what rough diamonds I would
unearth, polish and present to the world! And I would go on painting
myself. Thus I could pursue the noble art to which I had dedicated
myself and keep on eating at the same time without relying on the
charity of my father or prostituting the inner me.
I applied for the job and was duly appointed.
m
I resigned from this position largely because of the travelling nude.
I must be frank. The rough diamonds I hoped to find turned out to
be chunks of coal. And not even coal of the first grade, either. But
they were most pleasant pieces of coal, kind and most appreciative. I
became known in the little towns and in the pokey hotels, and held
forth in sundry Community Halls on the elements of the noble art of
painting as taught in the Ontario College of Art. Thus is the light
spread into the furthermost corners of the land.
Most of my students were unfortunately wholly intent on reproducing mountains and lakes and flowers with a passion that depressed
me. "More imagination!" I cried. "Use all the imagination you have!"
Whereupon dear Mrs. McGregor, when next I arrived in her neck of
the woods showed proudly a canvas on which she had painted a desert
sheik, in long white robes and red fez, sitting in a posture meant to be
majestic on an improbable-looking Arabian horse, and staring at what
was unquestionably a frozen lake in front of him, and the snow-capped
Rocky Mountains ringing him all round. The critical mind stood awed
and aghast. All I could mutter was, "You could improve the folds in
the sheik's robe."
I did not despair. My earnest hope was to guide my charges away
from nature and lead them, via the human figure, to the glory and
perfect freedom of Abstraction. I began first by having one or another
of my students pose, and I showed them how a face could be broken
down into its geometrical components. It was rather more difficult to
demonstrate how the clothed body could so be broken down, and it
was in Three Bear Hills that I made the fatal remark.
"What we need for a real study of the human figure," I said, "is
someone to model for us in the nude."
Well, the ice descended on the Three Bear Hills Community Hall.
Shocked looks crissed and crossed, and dear Mrs. McGregor looked at
me with infinite pain, as if to say, "You wouldn't surely mean me?' fourteen
I found myself shaking my head and mumbling, "No. No. That is
not what I meant at all," when suddenly there was the unmistakeable
gravel voice of Thomas Cullen breaking the icy silence with a loud
"Hear! Hear!"
I turned to look at him, and there he was, as sprightly a sixty-year-
old as ever you saw, small and wiry, with a little bald-pated head,
looking straight at Nancy Hall, a fair to middling thirty-year-old
blossoming bud, and "Hear! Hear!" he cried again. "That's what we
need all right."
"Shame!" cried dear Mrs. McGregor. "Shame!"
"For academic purposes merely," said Thomas Cullen saucily.
"Shame!" cried Mrs. McGregor again. "Shame!"
I managed to smooth things over, but the fertile seed continued to
sprout in Thomas Cullen's bald-pated head and the following June
bore glorious fruit in Medicine Hat.
Once a year there is a meeting of the Community Art Classes in
one of the larger centres, and whoever has the time gathers there for
a shindig lasting a day. There are discussions in small groups about
how things could be improved and then all the students exhibit their
pictures, and in the evening there's a banquet and there's a guest
speaker, and afterwards the group chairmen present a series of resolutions and everybody votes on them, and then, in a softly-glowing mood
of togetherness and comradeship the group dissolves, thinking that the
art of painting has been truly and nobly served.
As leader and travelling mentor I was expected to arrange this
annual event, and things went pretty smoothly. That ancient Mahler
might have thought the guild of medieval painters had been miraculously revived, until, of course, he'd seen the paintings. After the
discussions and the exhibition we all gathered in the banqueting room
of a restaurant, and sat on hard, narrow chairs around long tables,
eating tough chicken and soggy boiled potatoes and dried-out cole
slaw. After the dessert, I rapped a teaspoon against a glass and introduced our guest speaker, a nice enough fellow who'd come out of
Edmonton at my request, and who now began to warble about the
aesthetics of modern art, and threw names about, like Leeer and
Braque, and Mondrian, and Picasso, and everybody nodded knowingly,
feeling cultured and really dead centre, if you know what I mean. At
last he finished warbling and sat down amid polite applause.
The next item on the agenda was "Resolutions." It's funny, but I
can never even think of the word "resolution" without at once seeing
a wastepaper basket. I guess that is what Freud meant by free association. A procession of wastepaper baskets now began to march through fifteen
my head as our little band of devotees resolved in various ways to make
the cultural desert bloom.
It was getting pretty hot and my chair seemed to be getting smaller
and smaller, and just as I thought we were all done, there was the loud
clearing of a throat, and Thomas Cullen cried out, "I have another
resolution, Mr. Chairman."
Another wastepaper basket strutted slowly through my head. "But,"
I said, "you didn't chair one of the groups, did you, Mr. Cullen?"
"No," said Thomas Cullen, "I did not. This is a private resolution."
He cleared his throat again and took a sip of water. Then he got up,
straightened his tie, reached deep into the inner recesses of his breastpocket and brought out a piece of paper.
"Inasmuch and because no painter can call himself a painter unless
he knows the anatomy of the human figure," Thomas Cullen read
solemnly, "and inasmuch as it is impossible to study and know the
human figure unless that figure is nude, be it therefore resolved that
the authorities in question secure a travelling nude who would go from
community to community . . . ."
Thomas Cullen had more to say, but I didn't hear it. For, like Venus
rising from the waves, the travelling nude rose in my mind, fully fashioned, although with the first flush of youth now gone.
The next voice I heard distinctly was that of Mr. Edward Nash,
who sat next to his wife, and who now said loudly and clearly, "I
second the motion."
His wife turned on him with a startled look that froze on her face
and gave me some idea of what Sodom and Gomorrah must have been
like. "You wouldn't," she hissed. "You wouldn't."
"I second Mr. Cullen's motion," said Edward Nash stoutly. "A travelling nude—that's what we need to perfect ourselves as painters."
"You men!" said Mrs. Nash indignantly. "You're all alike. Painters,
indeed! Travelling nudes! Mountains and horses are good enough to
practice on."
"I'm sure the gentlemen are acting from highest motives," I said,
trying to soften things up.
"Lowest motives," cried Mrs. McGregor, "if you ask me."
"Now, now," I said sternly. "Let's have an orderly debate."
"I don't see what there is to debate," said Mrs. Nash. "Lechery.
That's all."
In the far corner portly Mr. Barrhead rose. He was about fifty, and
he specialized in painting lakes. He was, I believe, a lawyer. "There's
some merit in the resolution before us," he began. "However, the whole
thing is premature. Our fellow citizens would undoubtedly misconstrue this—this business, and the Community Art Classes would likely get a
bad name. In fact, this thing would likely kill the whole development."
"I disagree emphatically, Mr. Chairman," protested Thomas Cullen.
"If we get a travelling nude it would be the biggest shot in the arm
that painting ever got in this province."
It was at this moment that I saw the travelling nude demurely walk
to the hotel in her high-heeled shoes, and I was so engrossed in my
vision that I missed most of what followed, though Mrs. Nash threw
herself into the battle with renewed vigor and her voice dominated all.
"Question!" someone shouted. "Question!"
"Before we vote," cried Thomas Cullen, obviously trying desperately
to save his resolution, "let's ask Mr. Mahler what he thinks."
The noise subsided. All turned to me.
"I think it's an excellent idea," I said firmly. "If there's anything
you people need more than anything else it's a travelling nude."
"You can't mean that," cried Mrs. Nash after a moment of stunned
silence.
"I do," I said firmly, for my mind was filled with the vision I had
seen.
"I knew it," cried Mrs. McGregor. "I knew it all the time." I have
often wondered since what exactly it was that Mrs. McGregor knew.
The vote was taken. Fifty-two against, and one for. Mr. Edward
Nash half-raised his hand to vote "aye", but after a quick look at his
furious spouse, he dropped it again, and abstained.
rv
It was about two weeks after this memorable scene that my boss in
Edmonton summoned me to his office. He's a very nice fellow, though
more interested in oil wells than in oil paint, and our relations had
always been pleasant enough.
"Ah, Mahler," he greeted me. "It's good to see you. Sit down." He
was sucking on a pipe, and began to rummage about for something on
his desk. "Everything all right?" he asked casually.
"Fine," I said. "Everything's fine. One more trip to Three Bear Hills
and other points South, and that's it for this year. Thank God."
He gave me a quick look. "Why 'Thank God' ?" he asked. "Aren't
you happy in your work ?"
•Oh, sure," I said. "But I'm . . . ."
"Quite so," he interrupted. "Quite so." It was quite obvious that
he wasn't really much interested. He was filling his pipe and lighting
it, and in between puffs he said, "I called you in, Mahler, because of
this," and he held up a letter that he had unearthed from a pile on his desk. "It's nothing," he said nonchalantly. "I'm sure you can explain."
I was getting a bit annoyed, I must admit. If it was nothing, then
what was there to explain?
"It's a complaint," he said. "Signed by about fifteen of your students. I think it's a joke or something. But it appears that you are
strongly in favor of a travelling nude."
I looked him straight in the eye. "That's right," I said. "It's got to
the point where you can't have any kind of development of the community art classes unless you get a travelling nude. And the sooner the
better." I leaned forward and tapped my knuckles on his desk for
emphasis.
"You're not serious," he said.
"I was never more serious in my life," I said. "And what's more, we
need the kind of nude that'll really travel in the nude."
"You're not serious," he said again, incredulously. His pipe went out
and he sucked on it desperately.
"Furthermore," I continued, quite reckless now, "unless we get a
travelling nude, I can't possibly continue to instruct here. I'm sick and
tired of mountains and lakes. Our students have to be initiated into
the secrets of female, figure, sitting, nude."
"Mahler!" he said, and there was alarm in his voice, "you must be
mad."
"Drink deep or taste not the Pierian spring," I said.
"Mahler!" he cried. "What the "
"The original resolution called for the authorities to secure a travelling nude," I informed him calmly. " 'Authorities' in this case means
you. So if I were you, I'd start advertising."
"Mahler," he said. His hands were trembling, and he put his pipe
down on his desk. "Please go and see a doctor."
"I will not be insulted," I said haughtily. "I have my artistic pride.
It runs in the family. You will have my letter of resignation in the
morning."
I left him speechless, poor fellow. I think deep down I must have
wanted to give up this job. Don't you?
Oh, I forgot to tell you. The name of the travelling nude was
Valerie. She had no surname. Or if she did, I never knew it. eighteen
I
Cigarette Qitl
by raymond souster
Oh well
Having had our fill of the effortless
trivialities of the Hackett horn
we turn our eyes (to save something of the evening)
to the white-encased wonder
of the cigarette-girl's bottom
which really swings
the more we watch it, to a jazz beat
all its own:
go Katie, ero. three
poems
BEGINNING
From what they found most lovely, most abhorred
my parents made me; I was born like sound
stroked from the fiddle, to become the ward
of tunes played on the bear-trap and the hound.
Not one, but seven entrances they gave
each to the other, and he laid her down
the way the sun comes out.. Oh, they were brave,
and then like looters in a burning town.
Their mouths left bruises, starting with the kiss
and ending with the proverb, where they stayed;
never in making was there brighter bliss
followed by darker shame. Thus I was made.
TO THERESE
Last night I woke and told two darknesses,
one in the earth and one in me, my love
for you or anybody is a trick ^»j
I play against myself, a scarlet glove ^^
worn on a stunted hand so hideous ^N
I wash it with closed eyes, for it was bound <^
tight in my childhood like a Chinese foot, **
for similar reasons, to charm or astound; ^
and I was baffled that so little comfort <§
came from the telling. Though one darkness knew g
I told the truth, the other darkness echoed S*-i
none of my words, only the name of you. *§
REHEARSAL
So old that every ghost's a friend, he sits,
propped up with canes, pelted with schoolboy teasing,
here in our little street and plots his funeral
down to the last amen, and finds it pleasing
to choose again the six mane-tossing stallions,
the six pert dandies with their silver handles,
the eirls to toss the hymns like rose-white doves
out of their mouths, over the blessed candles. twenty
by andrew susac
NORMAN KING
You might have judged, because he had no friend
Too fine for truth, to near his need to spare
The restless probe of his relentless stare
That Norman King was of that monstrous brand
Of man who takes it on himself to rend
All others, piecemeal, till some flaw lays bare,
Omitting to amend his character:
But to judge so is not to understand.
For I once found him in an alley, stripped,
His clothes a puddle at his feet, and when
I hotly chided him, that he could dream
Of doing such a thing, he said his skin
Was missing all its buttons, and he wept
Because his fingers could not find the seam.
NAN SUSAC
Your soul is a fantastic landscape where
A gentle valley too broad for the eye
Yields mile on mile, in mad fertility,
A bloom of deepest indigo so rare
So powerful it exudes an atmosphere
And magically seems to modify
A shadowy lake, a ridge beyond, and the sky:
Lavender mountains float in the azure air;
And on the highest mountain of the ridge
That rises sheer out of the lake below
Into a bluish otherness of snow
No valley life survives, save on a ledge
Where under the scarlet of a crumpled crown
A scrawny condor blinks into the sun. twenty-one
ON THE
BLOCK
chapter sixteen from the
novel The Chance of a Lifetime
by william hall
The main character of THE CHANCE OF A LIFETIME, Tom Corrin, is a Cambridge graduate in his early
twenties, studying in the United States on a one-year's
post-graduate fellowship. As this chapter opens a love
affair of his own with a girl called Fran has just blown
up. She has rejected him to marry someone else. He
knows that a graduate school friend of his, Merrel Stirling, is having a love affair with the wife (Ginny) of
another friend, Don Hudziak. Tom has resisted till this
point any commitment in the matter, as he tries to avoid
any kind of involvement. As the novel progresses he tries
to remain uninvolved with Merrel, Ginny and Don, although he is, ironically, partly responsible for the catastrophe that results from the affair between Stirling and
Ginny Hudziak.
Then about eight o'clock one evening Don Hudziak called to see me.
He began by apologising for his behaviour at the party. Ginny was
absolutely right, he said, he ought to have his head examined. I cut
him off, and as I did so quite rudely I thought he might take the hint
and leave. But he didn't. He made further halting attempts at con- twenty-two
versation and stayed doggedly on in the unwelcome silence, still wearing his top-coat, his knife-edged creased trousers crossed at the knees,
his big hands clutched as if in prayer across his chest.
He wanted to know if I was going away for Christmas. I said I
wasn't. They'd be staying, he said. It'd be kind of dull, but it didn't
seem worthwhile to make the trip all the way back to Illinois just for
the few days, and the weather was bad right now. It always was about
this time—the snow and ice back there made driving kind of dangerous. I said I was sure it must. I wasn't going to spend Christmas with
my friends in Philadelphia, then, he wanted to know? I said no, I
wasn't and added with a certain vindictiveness that revealed my wish
to be rid of him, that the people I knew in Philadelphia were not
what I'd call friends. This distressed him. He flinched, cracked his
knuckles and looked hurt. To set the seal on it I said, "Anyway I can
never see too much point in making a big thing of Christmas."
"No," he said, "I guess you're right, Tom. It doesn't mean much
to a guy after he's a kid. Just another excuse to hang one on I guess."
He seemed to study me a moment, then he said, "Well look Tom, if
you're around here and don't have anything more important to do,
Ginny and I'd surely appreciate it, if you'd come share Christmas
dinner with us—"
"Oh—" I began.
He hastened on. "Nothing fancy you know—just the three of us—"
"Very nice of you to ask me," I said. I was wondering if that was
what he'd come to say and if he'd go now. I'd not the least intention
of spending Christmas day with them but I couldn't bring myself to
be brutal about it.
"Give us a call on it, Tom," he said. "Sometime next week, maybe.
Just if you've got nothing more important come up you know—"
His humility set my teeth on edge and I said irritably, "Oh for
Christ's sake—what would be more important?"
And that was a mistake. I could tell immediately from the way his
hands relaxed that he thought I meant I'd rather be with them than
anyone. If I'd said what was in my mind, that I'd be damned if I'd
have Christmas dinner with them, he'd have left and that would have
been the end of that and everything that happened among the three of
them afterwards might have been remote and separate from me. But
I didn't and it wasn't.
"I was headed for downtown," he said. "Do a little Christmas shopping and have a few drinks maybe. I wondered if maybe you'd care
to come along, Tom."
"I'm rather busy," I said. twenty-three
"Aw come on, Tom," he said, "I tell you I need some moral support
going into those stores. You don't want to stay in and work now the
semester's through."
There was an attraction for my bruised self-esteem in his attitude.
I was aware of the consolation of being sought out, and misery loves
company, especially the company of anyone it can feel itself superior
to, however spuriously.
He insisted we needed a drink before we did anything else so we
went to a bar he knew on Charles not far from the Mount Royal Hotel.
A hill-billy bar, crammed to the doors with the kind of people who
drifted along McMechan Street. A juke-box blared above the noise: a
din of twanging guitars, high-pitched fiddles and whining voices.
The man who ran things behind the bar eyed us suspiciously; I
suppose because we looked so different from the other customers,
who were most of them like Novaritz, dirty, vacant-faced and stoop-
shouldered. He himself seemed the guardian spirit of the place: unshaven, bald, and dirty, with broken yellow teeth revealed in a perpetual fixed leer.
We leaned against a corner of the bar, hemmed in by people.
"I like this place," said Don. "Gives me a charge. What I mean,
Tom, it's real."
I didn't say anything. I drank my beer as fast as I could. At my
elbow sagged a lone, neglected, and aging prostitute, wearing a green
jacket with a sheen like an insect's back. She smelled like a bunch of
wilting flowers left too long in brackish water.
"What I mean," Don was going on, "the U. gets me down sometimes and I like to come to a place like this and—well here you got
life, Tom."
"A bit the worse for wear, isn't it?" I said.
He thought that was funny and ordered another beer on the strength
of it. He seemed to get high rather quickly.
"That's what I admire about you, Tom," he said. "I mean you see
through everything."
I didn't care for the compliment and found it hard to concentrate
on a conversation shouted above the din, especially as the leering
Johnnie with the bad teeth was listening to what we said with evident
and cynical amusement.
I ordered two more beers to at least remove him for a moment or
two.
"Clinton had me in for a little chat couple days ago," Don went on
earnestly.
"Oh, you don't want to pay any attention to him," I said irritably. twenty-four
I felt we'd had this conversation before.
He went on, eyes everywhere but on my face. "He said maybe I
was too diffident and unsure of myself. How I was an A student, they
appreciated that but I needed confidence—things like that. Then he
wanted to know if maybe I had some personal problem was holding
me back—•"
I'd been as much preoccupied with our effect on the people behind
the bar as on what he was saying, but this brought my attention
sharply back. I thought this was what he'd come to talk about after
all: himself, Merrel and Ginny. I didn't want any part of it.
"I hope you told him that was none of his bloody business," I said.
He frowned and leaned against the bar as if his stomach hurt him.
"You could maybe have done that, Tom, but not me. I didn't say
anything, didn't see how I could—"
He left it there for me to take up, and his whole manner seemed
to beg I should. But I wouldn't.
"Look," I said, "let's get to hell out of this place, shall we? There
must be better places than this in town to get a drink."
After we'd parked the car in a lot near Lexington Avenue we began
to walk, quite aimlessly as far as I was concerned.
The streets were crowded; the people like insects clustering about
the huge lighted windows of the stores—displays of children's toys
next to evening-gowned wax models, scanty bathing-suit displays for
"Those who can get away," and the solemnly pretentious religious
scenes of the broken-down stable with angelically blank-faced Josephs
and Marys and life-like stuffed asses and oxen; and everywhere, piped
out from department stores, radio shops, and drugstores, Christmas
music: a strange nightmare cacophony of "Silent Night," "I Saw
Momma Kissing Santa Claus," "Come All Ye Faithful," and Bing
Crosby singing "White Christmas." A big fat Santa Claus with bleary
eyes and a cotton-wool beard stood on the corner of Lexington and
Howard beside a big box painted red and white like a brick chimney
with a banner over it inscribed "Remember those less fortunate than
yourselves." And it was cold, rawly cold, as it is in East Anglia when
the winter wind blows in from the North Sea, and under the lights
the people's faces looked pinched, their noses red and their expressions—those I could catch as they flitted past—not all happy. Especially not those of weary parents trailing children. They looked vexed
or worried or just plain tired—except occasionally standing in front
of a window they'd smile as they caught the delight on a child's face.
It was all crazily sentimental, crass and mercenary, and essentially
pointless, but it was good for me. I wished I'd been alone. I thought twenty-five
I'd have enjoyed it: meandering around, in and out of stores and
streets and bars, aimless as a paper boat on a wind-ruffled pond.
We stopped in another bar and had something more to drink. I
stuck to beer, but Don said he'd have a whiskey, and the beer as
chaser.
As we came out of the place I said, "How about this Christmas
shopping ? The stores'll be closed soon."
"That's right," he said. "Goddamit, Tom, you're always right. I got
to buy Ginny's present."
"You know what it's to be?" I asked.
He nodded seriously. "Sure I know," he said. "You bet your sweet
life, I know." He looked across the street. "There's the place." And he
started off across the street as if intent on having himself run over.
I joined him outside the glass doors of a very expensive women's
store.
"You're sure this is it?" I said.
"Nothing- but the best," he said.
So in we went, onto thick carpeting, to a warm and scented atmosphere, a woman's world of carefully arranged displays of evening-
gowns, cosmetics, perfumes, lingerie, purses and shoes. He headed for
the lingerie and we were met by a very smart petite blonde of about
thirty-five, with a sharply-featured Jewish face and bright dark restless eyes that had summed us up before we'd said a word. She wore
a black dress that fitted very snugly over what was evidently a very
supple and well-made foundation garment, tiny high-heeled slippers,
and a neat silver brooch at the left side of her low neckline. Her
smooth blonde hair glistened and her mouth, painted full and generous,
was open in a practised professional smile.
"I wanted a negligee," Don blurted out. "Kind you call a peignoir."
His nervousness and the Dutch courage of the whiskey combined
to make him sound like Merrel at his most bullying. He looked across
the woman as a certain kind of guest looks across a servant. I don't
think she liked it, but she didn't lose her smile, as long as I could see
her face. She wafted across to a counter and called over two other
black-clad nymphs.
I didn't think it would take long. I assumed he'd be as malleable as
clay in the hands of the women and buy the first thing they offered. I
fancy the blonde floorwalker had the same idea, for after a brief
whispered consultation with the two girls she stayed to watch.
But it wasn't like that at all and before long the blonde was taking
a part.
"Hold up that one, Elsa," she'd say and the tall disdainful brunette twenty-six
would hold the negligee against herself and turn a little so that it
moved over her hip.
"Charming isn't it?" the blonde would say. "Notice the delicate
leaf pattern ? Quite transparent you see," putting her hand under the
material and twisting it so that we could see the movement of flesh
under the thin gauze.
"How much is it anyway?" Don would say. "35 dollars? Only nylon?
Got anything better?"
The girls would appeal to me. I'd shrug and mutter something about
moral support. I wished he'd hurry it up as we'd begun to attract a
good deal of attention, most of it amused. The counter was strewn
with negligees of every shade and every degree of transparency. I
began to wonder if he really intended to buy anything at all, and so
did the blonde. Her professional smile was wearing thin.
She whispered something to one of the girls, who looked momentarily startled, and then walked off to the front of the store. I watched
her. She stopped a very impressive-looking gent in a dark suit, with
grey hair as sleek as the blonde's, and a manner that put him as much
at ease in this female paradise as a sultan in his seraglio. They talked
and glanced in our direction. I wondered if this was the first stage of
our ignominious ejection. They walked away towards the windows and
the manager, I assumed that's who he was, vanished behind a curtain.
"You're very hard to please, sir," the blonde was saying, and it
didn't sound like a compliment. "It's not often a man is so discriminating, though of course I understand that for a lovely lady only the
most beautiful seems right. But I think we do have—Ah—here we
are—"
This heralded the reappearance of the girl and the manager. He
held across his arms, as reverently as a priest holds his bishop's cope,
another negligee.
The whole scene: the reverence, the piled-up lace, nylon, silk and
satin, the attendant clustering girls, seemed suddenly the height of
absurdity as I thought of the woman the garment was destined for.
Ginny of the thick ankles, the white blouses, dark skirts, and sensible
shoes. I couldn't imagine her wearing any such thing. I couldn't
imagine why Don should even think of buying it—unless he thought
it might work some magic.
The pressure was now really on. The blonde and the manager sang
their responses as expertly as a pair of priests at high mass.
This was the piece de resistance. They had nothing better in the
store. There was nothing like it in Baltimore. It was a garment one of
a kind. They would hate to part with it. They kept it in the show win- twenty-seven
dow because it was so very beautiful. Was Modom possibly tall—tall
and slender? Then this gown was especially designed—Elsa!
And the disdainful weary Elsa was made to step from behind the
counter and don the exquisite masterpiece over her black dress; the
manager and the blonde fitted it delicately, holding it away from her
shoes. "Walk, Elsa." Elsa walked. It was blue, transparent, softly
folded and pleated, and floated like a cloud as she walked expertly
in the passageway between the counters. A little crowd gathered to
watch and there were exclamations of delight and admiration. The
manager was in a rapture. Perfect. Exquisite.
And there was no doubt it was, for it made even Elsa look like a
vision of the Virgin—a seductive vision.
It was all very absurd, but I wondered how the hell we were going
to escape. I looked at Don. He stared at Elsa, nostrils distended, mouth
firmly set. I thought, they'll raise the roof if he turns round now and
buys something for $35.
"That's it," he said. "I'll have it."
"Well, for God's sake," I said, "how much is it?"
"What's the matter?" he said. "Don't you like it?"
"Of course I like it," I said, "but—"
"Only $350, sir," interrupted the manager. Elsa was divesting herself. The blonde hovered. She looked pleased—as if tasting revenge.
"She'll be thrilled," she said. "Only $350—just think of the craftsmanship that went into it."
The manager gazed at Don with the most skilful blend of obsequious attention and respect, yet hinting at extreme contempt if he
refused to buy, that I ever saw. The blonde said: "You'll wish it gift-
wrapped of course, sir."
"Oh sure, sure," said Don.
I stared at him.
"For Christ's sake," I said, "you're not spending that kind of money
on a bloody nightie."
The manager frowned.
"I'm sure the gentleman can make up his own mind," he said.
I ignored him. I wasn't amused any more.
"You're actually going to buy it?" I insisted.
"Yes," he said.
"You're an idiot," I said.
He flushed.
"I'm going to buy it," he said.
"Well I'll wait outside," I said. "I've had enough of this bloody
nonsense." And I stalked out. twenty-eight
I was as mad as hell and I'd got half a block before I slowed down.
It was none of my business if he wanted to spend more money than
Ginny earned a month on a few billowy clouds of silken net. It was
his wife and his unhappiness, not mine. I thought I'd just leave him
to stew in his own juice and go back to my apartment and carry on
with my work. Then it occurred to me that when he'd found I'd gone
he'd be likely to trail morosely after me and start apologising. I couldn't stomach that. So I turned around and went back to the entrance
of the store. So long as I could convince myself I wasn't feeling responsible for him, that it was none of my business, and that I was only
saving myself trouble, I didn't mind. So I waited for him, thinking
what an utter bloody idiot he was, watching the crowds go by, and
taking a few steps back and forth against the cold.
When he came out he looked sheepish and flushed and almost sober.
He was carrying a large box under his arm, wrapped in silvery paper
decorated with stars, and tied with a gold satin ribbon, the whole
wrapped in heavy cellophane.
"There was a big deal about the check," he said. "I had 'em call
Mrs. Morton so she could vouch for me."
"Lucky for you she was home," I said with grim sarcasm.
"Yeah, she's not leaving till Christmas Eve," he said vaguely. "She
buys stuff there all the time so they figured if she said I was OK I was.
Had to show all kinds of identification though. They sure don't run
any risks."
"Oh they don't." I said. "All you need worry about is if you've
$350 in the bank to cover the check."
"I guess we've got that much, Tom," he said. He looked worried,
as if now he had the thing some doubt was at last beginning to seep
into his mind. "Quite something though, isn't it?" He shifted the
package. He was seeking approval again and as there didn't seem
any point in going on about it now he had the thing, I said it was,
and as it was cold we might as well go and have a drink. He brightened
up at that and said we should go down to the Block.
I'd been there before, of course, with Merrel, in my first few weeks
in Baltimore. The lower end of Baltimore Street in every sense of the
word: burlesque houses, novelty shops that sold more pornographic
photographs than novelties, so-called amusement parlours, night-clubs,
bars, and, as Merrel maintained, one or two brothels thrown in as well.
It had all seemed fascinating and amusing. We'd been quite consciously
slumming and Merrel slumniing was a sight to behold, looking so clean
and healthy and obviously out of place with a puritanical indictment,
declaimed in his usual bellow, of everything we saw and enjoyed. I'd twenty-nine
not been there since that time and had almost forgotten its existence,
as I suppose most of the city's inhabitants did.
But this evening it made a totally different impression on me.
We went into a bar next door to a burlesque house. The front of the
theatre blazed with bare electric lamps and was plastered with enticing
photographs and large placards announcing GIRLS GIRLS GIRLS
EVERY HOUR ON THE HOUR. But the bar was crummy and
populated by a wistful-looking group of men, mostly middle-aged, who
looked as if they didn't have the price of a theatre ticket, and were
waiting in the dim hope of catching a glimpse of one of the GIRLS
GIRLS GIRLS dropping in for a drink in her G. string.
Don held the package on his knees as we sat down at a table in the
corner, ordered a whiskey and began apologising for taking up my
time in the store.
I shrugged it off. He drank some of his whiskey, leaning over the
table to do it, so as not to spill any of it on the precious package.
Then he said: "Bet you bought Fran something real fancy, huh,
Tom?"
It was a shock. "Oh," I said. "Reasonably. Nothing like that of
course."
"What did you get her then, Tom?"
The hell with him I thought, forcing me to think about her if only
to lie about her.
"Oh some perfume," I said. "Let's have another, shall we?"
"Sure, sure, Tom," he said contentedly. "Don't want to seem to pry,
Tom," (not much he didn't) "but is she the girl you were having the
trouble with a while back? Remember?"
"Yes, she was," I said. Then because I knew he was all set to ask
questions that in their flattery would suggest Fran and I were the
greatest lovers since Antony and Cleopatra, I went on flatly: "And
'was' is the operative word. She's getting married to somebody else.
We've had it."
"Aw hell, Tom, that's too bad." Sympathy radiated from him almost
happily.
"Oh well," I said, very nonchalant, "good thing to have it come to
grief early rather than late." And I downed my whiskey to show just
how casually I was taking the whole thing.
He leaned forward over his package, his face suddenly worried.
"Hope it wasn't anything I said at that party, Tom?"
"No, of course not," I said, "just a simple case of incompatability.
Don't let's talk about it. You know the old motto—pull up the drawbridge behind you Jack and you'll be all right." thirty
We had some more whiskey and I gulped it down quickly. The nonchalant pose was suddenly uncommonly hard to hold onto. I drank
fast and quite a lot and so did he, and then we left the place: Don
clutching his package against his chest with great care.
The Block began to disgust me. I hated it. It was filth, the stinking
sink and cess-pool of the city, not just of the city but of the whole
bloody United States. It was America and a very fitting place for me.
This was all anyone was fit for that had lost their vital contacts.
We sat in one small bar, very warm, rosy-lighted and sleek.
"Look at that fat pig behind the bar," said Don.
I looked. She was as fat as Marilyn Novaritz, ugly as sin, and
quivered like a jelly every time she moved.
"Disgusting," I said.
Then in a basement club we sat at an elliptical bar, drank sixty-cent
beers, and watched the girls perform just a few inches or so in front
of and above us. There was a young girl, no more than eighteen, who
merely strutted down the walk, posed and walked back, wearing a
green headdress, high-heeled shoes, and a small green satin triangle
over her mound of Venus. She was beautifully shaped and tall and as
nervous as a kitten and I thought I was no better than the other
lechers raping her in their souls.
Every time a girl went off the lights went on and the other girls,
dressed, clustered round the men at the bar and urged them to buy
drinks. One came and put her arms on our shoulders and leaned
between us.
"Boys buy me a drink?" she said.
I bought her one.
"Off a boat?" she asked.
"That's right," said Don. She was slim but her body seemed to be
bursting out of her clothes. Her hair was thick, red and long, and
her face attractive. Her voice was a little husky.
"Want to come up to my place after the show? Give you a good
time."
"What—both of us?" I said.
She laughed as if that were a joke.
"We'll think about it," said Don.
"Don't take too long over it," she said. "I'm on next and you ain't
the only customers in the house." She left.
I was morally outraged.
"No better than a knocking-shop," I said. "And a girl like that.
Good-looking. Hell!"
"Another ten years of this," said Don with morose satisfaction, thirty-one
"she'll look like the fat pig in the bar we just left."
She didn't dance the way the others had, hesitant, or bored, or with
an obvious ludicrous manipulation of herself (like the middle aged
blonde whose nipples were painted with phosphorescent paint, and
who, the lights all out, swung her breasts like saggy balloons to make
the paint spots bob up and down and describe circles and figures of
eight). She seemed to enjoy herself and provoked the audience to clapping and shouts as she rocked and bounced and bumped and ground
till I could feel myself hot all over watching her.
"Let's go to her apartment," I said.
"Aw hell, Tom," Don said.
"Why not?" I said. "Just to see what happens?"
"We'd have to pay," Don said.
She came down to the bar, dressed again, and I thought drunkenly
she was burning with lust and hate for every one of us.
She was intercepted by a man who talked earnestly for a moment
with her. She looked at us and shrugged. The man led her to another
man standing near the door. He was a little man about fifty in a grey
business suit; a pot-bellied little man with a white flabby face, a cigar
stuck in his mouth and a derby hat on the back of his head. He was
drunker than we were and almost drooled as she came over to him.
"OK, Pop, let's go," she said contemptuously and walked past him
to the stairs. He followed her, tripping over his feet so that his hat fell
off and he had to scrabble on his hands and knees for it, while she
watched him from the stairs. Then they went out.
"Women!" I said.
"Goddam," said Don, "she'll kill the old bastard."
Where we were when he began to tell me about Al Betrucchi (as if
he'd never told me that story before) and about himself and Ginny
I can't for the life of me remember. I can remember what he told me
and the words are broken up in my memory with images that might
all be from the same place or from different places and the words and
images are all embedded in the sense of disgust, hatred, fear, and
despair I was increasingly wallowing in.
There was a woman sitting on the stool beside him with a face that
looked as if it were made of whitewashed old brick, with hands like a
grandmother's, her black skirt hoisted to her suspender clips.
"Who's the package for, honey?" she asked wheedlingly.
"Not for you, you old bag," Don said.
Over my shoulder peered a fat white face with a rose-bud mouth
on top of a body of a pig worse than the one we'd seen in a bar somewhere. The face smirked and one pudgy hand held some mistletoe and
J thirty-two
I
the other a basket of sprigs.
"Fifty cents, boys, and you kiss me under the mistletoe and take it
away as a souvenir."
"I'd as soon kiss your ass," Don said.
"With jam on it," I said.
". . . but Al never had any luck. First year we were in college, before
I went into the service, there was this young English instructor, a girl
I mean, and she was hot for Al. We used to go round to her apartment
evenings and drink beer and talk about art and stuff like that and she'd
lie on this couch with her housecoat unbuttoned way down. But she
always asked the two of us. So one night I said to Al, I said, 'Hell, Al,
go by yourself, it's you she wants. Go dig it.' So he went and tried to
make her and that's how he got thrown out of college. She raised a
great goddam hooha and said he'd tried to rape her—Goddam and
all the time she'd been begging for it—poor old Al—"
We were standing in a hollow-sounding wooden barn of a place
about two feet away from a stage on which an old hag was stripping
off her clothes and men were shouting, "Throw those bums out. Sid-
down. What the hell. Who they think they are?"
We were being hustled outside, Don clutching his package and exclaiming, "Watch the hell what you're at. That's valuable."
We were walking down a street brilliantly lit but empty and silent.
"She sleeps all the time," he said. "You know that? Sleeps. I'm not
impotent, Tom. I do the best I can. But d'you think she'll tell me
what's eating her? She won't tell me, Tom, won't tell me a goddam
thing. I tell you this because we're friends, Tom. Goddam we're friends.
I trust you Tom. That's the trouble, who can a guy trust anymore?
I can't trust her anymore. She won't tell me a goddam thing. Well
we've not, well, you know what I mean? not for two months. Says
she doesn't want, doesn't like it anymore. I don't believe that, Tom.
She picks on me all the time—all the time finding fault with me. I disgust her, she says. But I know she's playing around with that guy
Stirling. I know she is but she won't tell me—won't tell me a goddam
thing—"
His face seemed to swim in front of mine, huge, white and haggard
as a tragic face on a movie screen. He was sweating and his brown
eyes were moist and imploring and his mouth pulled down at the
corners. He clutched the silver and gold package to his chest and it
looked as crisp and new as when he'd bought it, miraculously unstained and unspotted.
"She's my wife and I love her, Tom. Honest to God I really do but
she doesn't believe me and she won't listen to me. She hates me. She thirty-three
says she's through with me. But she doesn't know what she's doing.
It's that bastard Stirling. What does he care? I'll kill him. Tom, you
know him. Couldn't you say something to him, Tom? Couldn't you,
Tom? She's not his kind. Couldn't you tell him to leave her alone? As
a favour, Tom? I'll go crazy if this keeps up."
So it was out. Consult good old Uncle Tom. Advice to the lovelorn.
Miss Lonelyhearts. Mary Worth the invincible or the collegiate
mender of broken romances.
A car swished by and a clock bell rang clearly somewhere near at
hand and down an alley I saw a neon sign.
"We need another drink," I said.
We walked down the alley to the door of the bar. The neon sign
was still lit but the door was locked. We pounded on it.
"Light of the World," I said. "They must have seen us coming."
Don yelled: "Come on, open up. We're thirsty."
The door had a small square frosted panel in it.
"Damn it," I said, and I kicked the door. Don stood swaying a little,
glaring at the door. "Let's go home," I said.
Don swayed, then swung and punched his fist clean through the
glass panel.
"Hell," I said. "Come on." And I started back up the alley. Don
followed me. At the street corner I looked back and saw a man come
out of the door. I started to run and so did Don. I was suddenly sober
enough to know where we were and where the parking lot was. I ran
as hard as I could. I was giggling.
"What a bloody stupid thing to do," I said.
We turned a corner and I looked back. The man was following us,
and he was waving a stick.
"I cut myself," Don said. "I'm wounded."
"Hard luck," I said, "we'll be more than that if he catches us."
We got to the lot and scrambled into the car. Don held his left hand
up in the air. It was bleeding badly. He put the precious package on
the seat between us and started the car. I looked out of the window
and saw the man panting up to one of the entrances to the lot. The
car started up and we were away. I saw the man standing there, yelling
after us, a policeman's baton swinging above his head: a big greyheaded man with a face that looked seamed and ugly in the harsh
light. But we were safe, so I leaned back against the seat as we careened off up Howard Street, and said: "That's one bar we'd better
keep out of. I hope he didn't get the licence number."
"I'm bleeding like a pig," Don said. "You'd better drive."
We stopped the car and changed places and looked at his hand. It
J thirty-four
was. a mess. His second finger was very badly torn, right down to the
bone. I wrapped his handkerchief round it. He leaned back, looking
sick.
"I'm bleeding to death," he said.
"Don't be stupid," I said. But the handkerchief was already soaked.
He let it fall on his knee.
"Hold it up," I said, "or it'll be all over everything."
He jerked it up again and held it up, and pushed the package along
the seat away from him with his other hand.
I started the car and drove as fast as I could: and I felt sober
enough now to know what I could and couldn't do.
"I've got to get to a doctor," he said.
"Very well," I said, "we'll go to that Women's Hospital that's just
around the corner from my place and have them look at it."
He lay there as if he were dying.
"Does it hurt?" I said.
"It hurts like hell," he said.
"Hold it-up," I said. "It might stop the bleeding."
He stuck his arm up to the roof of the car like a bloody semaphore
flag.
The nurse didn't like the look of us and peered out of the basement
emergency room looking like the guardian gargoyle on the roof of an
■Indian long house.
She called the doctor and had me fill out the necessary form, while
she sat Don down in a chair, filled a basin with hot water, and started
to unwind the sopping handkerchief.
"What happened to him?" she asked. It was no use asking Don any
questions. He sat, lax as a doll, his eyes closed, his face a greenly-pallid
suffering mask.
"He—ah—cut his hand on a beer bottle," I said.
"Oh, did he?" she said, examining the hand and swabbing it with
cotton wool. "What was he trying to do? Cut his finger-nails with it?"
"He fell on it," I said.
She obviously didn't believe that, but she didn't ask any more questions.
■When the intern came she told him in the same bullying tone she
used on us that the second finger would need some stitches taken in it
and she had the gut and needles and scissors all ready for him. Don
suffered the operation stoically enough and I think the intern, who
wasn't much older than we were, sweated as much as he did. He
wasn't very expert and seemed to find the gimlet gaze of the dragon
nurse quite a strain. thirty-five
When he'd finished he sighed and said, "That should hold it," and
bandaged the finger and the rest of the hand. I noticed him looking
curiously at the package on Don's knees.
"A Christmas present for his wife," I said.
"Oh," he said. "Did you fill out the emergency form?"
"Yes," I said.
"His own doctor'd better take a look at it in a day or two." He
hesitated a moment, looked at us dubiously and said, "Well, nurse, I'll
get back upstairs now." Not a statement, but a request for permission
to leave. She gave it.
"Very well, doctor," she said. "Thank you."
"Yes, thanks a lot," I said. He smiled and left.
"Fifteen dollars," the nurse said.
I paid her. She gave me a receipt.
"OK, Don," I said. "Let's go."
He opened his eyes. He looked blank, as if he'd been asleep. Then
he looked suffering again.
"You'll live," the nurse said briskly.
I took him up to my apartment and made some coffee and we
drank it.
"Owe you fifteen dollars, Tom," he said at one point.
"Oh, nonsense," I said. "Don't think about it."
He sat on, not saying anything; pallid and lumpish.
"If you'd like to spend the rest of the night here, you're quite welcome to," I said.
"No," he said. "I'd better go. What time is it?"
It was almost four o'clock.
"Shall I drive you over?" I asked.
"No—oh no," he said. "I'll manage OK. Thanks, Tom. Thanks a
lot."
I saw him downstairs in the same strained blank silence. He clutched
the still unstained package in his bandaged hand.
When I got back upstairs the first thing my eye fell on was my diary
lying on top of my writing table and the fine and excellent saying
about the pointlessness of self-knowledge tacked up above it on the
wall. I relieved my feelings somewhat by flinging the diary against the
wall and tearing up the fine and excellent saying into shreds. But I
didn't relieve them much. thirty-six
TWO
WALKS
1  BY CITYSIDE
for August i, 1956
by george bluestone
Without you, the paltry rain puzzles the wall,
And blue tile sags. A fall of winking shale,
And the heart takes winter like an empty glass,
The ragged acid of the blood-let place.
Everywhere the caked and armless men
Blink beyond the tongue of comprehension,
And ink-blue cats give voice to troubled night.
It is a painter's city, for eyes that sight
The leper's skin behind the sightless stone.
Decorticated tigers yawn against the bone,
Their whiskers telling tales of no imagining.
And aimless line, like spiders netless spinning,
Stitches up the wounds of the tumbled hound.
Canarsie locals freeze the skinless mind
Like hands, once warm, against the iron rack,
And last night's tears astound the earliest truck.
Under every hat I see a shining skull,
In every winding heart, a faulted bell.
Yards of useless noose hang the freshest wash,
Dangling the Monday hope, the spoiling ash,
The bruising angles of the last high noon.
Like the smell of bullet smoke, but showing none,
The after-burn of dying angers the very air.
From the lowest eye below the highest tower,
To the driest mouth in the child's last call,
I sense the sad, the continual fall. thirty-seven
II
Then we go as two. And suddenly a mouth
Leaps from the crowd, and stops a doubtful youth
To tell its story. Now all things move easily.
Breaking his pose against the bright geometry,
The chestnut man stuffs his bag with novelty.
We crack the husk and eat that sweetmeat endlessly.
The whistle from his stove quickens the air,
His steaming cloud nips my copper ear.
At last the light turns green, and we can walk.
Then pastel rubble sings the abandoned block,
The beggar, feathered in oil and the innocent rag,
Shows courage, knotting his hand for the upward tug.
We handle jugs like full, rough promises
Where brick-red light connives at sudden loveliness.
My bottled tongue thaws to sherry sauce,
And we know the pleasure of the antic sense.
Even the smoke stings with morning joy,
And ragout pictures assemble to our eye.
The mud-logged bottles burrow up to breathe,
And sweet air plays the lot to sudden ease.
An iron bird comes free of the tangled fence,
Flaring up, high, against the fired sun,
The dead-end street turns to endless view:
Our love has taught the city how to grow. thirty-eight
LAURENTIAN
MAN*
by wilfred watson
i.
When indefatigable God decided to make a new man, homo Canadiensis
He somewhat dubiously supposed that pulverized
Laurentian Shield would do all right as a corporeal basis,
Because (I give only a few of the Divine Reasons)
Though it's a phlegmatic conservative old-fashioned dust
More than a few centuries dour, without the least vein of humour,
And puritanic to a geologic fault, still,
It reddens with a blush of past granitic fire
Pioneer in creation, God took a deeper breath than usual.
And said hopefully, Let there be life.
The Canadian Shield slept on, as through the ages.
God took a second breath, and cleared his throat.
Let there be some life, he hesitated; but the dust was deaf.
Let there be life, or else—, God shouted; and at last
Of course there was some life, of a sort.
God rested from this day's labour, quite fatigued.
It's far from good, he said. But then it isn't so bad,
Considering this dense porphyry I've tried to work
* Homo novissimum canadiensis thirty-nine
3-
Before him, obvious as a senseless crime, the first Canadian stood gaping
At him, with that magnificent blank complacency,
That awful monotony of face, that face to face
Blankness of mind, all cattle grass and trees, all wood and beef—
Consummatum est, God punned. He all but gave up the ghost,
Self-crucified in a wanton act of creation.
I shall have to make it, he shuddered, a second Eve.
No woman not of Laurentian dust could face this face all her life
1
God wept. But still, he thought, brushing away his tears,
It may do yet, if mated to a nice appropriate Eve.
A happy sex life will polish up many rough edges.
It has got a nice big simple decent heart.
I'm not completely sold on brilliancy.
I made the Greek too subtle and too sharp.
The French too polished. The English too poetically glib of tongue.
The Irish too fanciful, always fighting fairies.
The Jews alas too like myself—that was completely wrong;
I might have known, since I am liked by none,
No race could tolerate the Jews for long
5-
Nerving himself, God set about making this latest man a wife.
No need to put so dull an Adam to sleep.
I'll hack at him as a sculptor hacks at stone.
Let me see, let me see, said God. The rib's too weak a bone
To be of use in this new Eve's construction.
So he decided after some lengthy cogitation
To make this woman entire of Adam's backbone,
Stern stuff, equal to almost any attrition.
But am I her God, he asked, to pull such a trick on a woman;
And went on with the task, as if engaged in seduction. forty
6.
When she was manufactured, God still hesitated.
This man, he said, is utterly without art.
And though she is all backbone, he must be educated.
And if subjected to a good foreign, European, education,
Well, who knows? Some German music, Wagner,Brahms,Beethoven—
Some lectures on Rubens, Rembrandt, and Dutch interior painting—
Some English verse, some elementary French prose—
As much Rabelais and Shakespeare as the brute can stand—
Who knows? Though it looks like carving mottoes on a tombstone—
7-
Alas, poor Eve! God sent for the best European educators.
Adam stared at them, his eyes two stone potatoes.
He shook his head—not he, he didn't like fugues or sonatas.
Didn't like sonnets, odes, canzones, terza rima.
Nor drama neither, though drilled through and through with
Shakespeare.
What can a paving stone make out of Julius Caesar?
How could it rise to vertical Coriolanus ?
O, this new man's soul was cut from such dead granite,
That, though his professors tried out all their wit,
God had to call them off, lest culture itself perish
8.
Petrified in his wits too, God was about to consign Laurentian Adam
Back to the Canadian Shield again, when the Devil spoke,
No friend of God's, but now filled with compunction.
Sweet God, said Satan, I've just the two men you want—
God sighed reproachfully. Well, if you mock me, Satan?
But then he took the Devil's thought. Is one of your men Irving Lay ton?
Yep, said the Devil. The other's Louis Dudek!
You're right, said God. I think they may do the trick forty-one
9-
And me happiest, sang Irving Layton, to the new Adam,
When I compose poems. The new Adam gaped at him delighted,
Laurentian Shield transfigured to ecstacy, which drops his jaw.
I'm never far from tears, sighed Layton, and the new Adam sighed too.
This is the new reader poetry requests, said Dudek.
My heart is parted like the Red Sea, semaphored Irving Layton.
Here is great metaphor, instructed Professor Dudek.
Adam flung his arms about, a sentimental concrete windmill—
Oh, the new Adam thrilled from his cowlick to his navel,
Though fabricated from impervious Canadian Shield.
God blessed the new Adam, and his blessing spilled
Lava into Layton. God triumphed, and Layton smiled
10.
God saw that rock had made a great geological leap upward.
It had become, in the new Canadian, for the first time, quasi-human.
The angels laughed—to be rebuked. God told them
There is more rejoicing in Heaven when a chunk of Laurentian Shield
Becomes sophisticated into a Dudekian barbarian,
Than when ten thousand Irish sods are Patricked!
It is said, that St. Thomas Aquinas discreetly chuckled,
Re-affiming his sense of God's marvellous plenitude forty-two
rhe
leror's Circus
(On seeing his drawings reproduced)
by dorothy livesay
Cold and recalcitrant they called him, old
In a dying court. Duty before grace,
To his own self unmerciful;
Significance become remote, in a regime
Where his name only, raged supreme:
Franz Josef, imperator impersonal.
Only his name! Once it was plain Franz
And he fifteen, learning how to dance,
Taken by tutor to the Cirque Francais
To see the acrobats, the horses prance.
Out came his pen, and on the parchment sheet
His laughter caught the tumbler's leap;
The circus master, elegant with whip,
The acrobats half taken by surprise,
Yet mastering the air; and centred on each page
Inviolate beneath their trappings, tossing heads,
He caught the tremor of their hooves, the cries
Of lovely creatures circling the dust.
He saw the silence yielding in their eyes.
Alone upon an empty throne
Head weighted with imperial crown
The old man frowned; setting his house to rights,
His papers in their proper place,
Saw the mild horses leaping in that land
So long untrod, by image or by rhyme;
And could not take himself in hand
To rip the pages, feed the fire—
But tossed them into time. forty-three
UUCtUR€$
for Samuel Strong, buried January, 1959
by ian sowton
Death lends us childrens' eyes:
I saw with my little eye
the jungle slick as a gold tooth
disposing of its dead
with vultures: I ask you, Cock Robin,
why did the whole flock of us
follow those vultures, scruffily solemn,
who grin with cleanliness—not one louse of pride—
and cadillac our slow way along,
wheel and settle clumsily among those trees of stone ?
And with hyenas: I tell you, Cock Robin,
they snuffled in that cold cave of a chapel,
moved loudly and—no tick, no flea of dignity—
ruffled the widow's feathers with yells and even grins
why not? with a whole continent of cold
kidnapping our breath and the snow-snake
bruising at our heels with treasonable sleep?
why not—I ask every Robin of a Cock of you—
when the sky's collapsed into a frozen little hole
and Zion's hill is just a mound of paper grass ?
Why not vultures and hyenas ?
Only garbagemen know cleanness when they see it,
they know the whole world scours itself with death,
they know decorum is the occupational disease
of scavengers, and clean, Robin, how clean
they pick and scrub the mange of our propriety. forty-four
I
THEIR SIMPLE
MINDS
SKIN TO SKIN
by elizabeth a. luckhurst
This is returning from walking through the dusking of evening
knowing that I must light the room brightly or I will continue
undulating in this goose-pimpled drowsiness.
Now the room is bright, the light is lit. My wire nerves are also static
with the friction of my anxious blood. Housework answers the physical
but my mind is unsatisfied and excited. Can it explain the now, before,
and after of that day of his dying? The parallel, is there none between
myself and these Indian-Canadians of the northland's interior? Is not
poker as to book; liquor as to sleep? When they gamboled around his
coffin as comfort, in lieu of what the church could not give them or
I—nor I nor the church give them—is that not much like reading?
Is the only solace liquor and the liquored sleep of unconciousness and
not sleep, the liquid relief of drowsiness that was given my tired body
days later? Is there no comparison? What is the analogy?
It was a blue-cold etherized execution for the boy. He could not
tolerate ether, the post mortem was as simple as that. Everything about forty-five
the day was cold, everything without colour. People into silhouettes
in lines of blue, green unto death-white. The Indians read the sign
which they say is always seen on the night of a death. It also has no
colour being a strip in the white-moon sky of blue within a strip of
bluish.
Stoic as he was in that double difficulty of being thirteen years
and short of stature he came to me. In the dead boy's words, as he
stood stirring the syrup for Hallowe'en popcorn balls, "You're like
us now. You wear jeans and moccasins and you don't wear your
watch on the outside of your sweater like you did when you first came
from the south-city. Of course," he hastily corrected himself candidly,
"you're not dirty enough yet." And it was exactly true. How precisely
true we did not realize.
Artificially I bore some physical resemblance to them and acting
like them even fooled myself. But we were wrong. The deep-set
difference became apparent again and again. One night a mother who
had not enough money to feed herself or her children satisfactorily,
baked and sent me some bread in quantity, 8" by 4". These were sweet
breads containing raisins, bear grease, and not "cinnamon" as I first
respected, but filthy dirt. This would include small amounts of dust
and dirt from outside and portions of secretions, with sour odours,
from the body. She baked these for me and somehow I knew I ought
to eat them. Whether her motives were ulterior, whether they were
in thanks or guilt was somehow not part of the question. I could not
eat the bread, this offering.
It becomes impossibly difficult to find release when there is sympathy without empathy. What can you say to each other so that you
know you share? We shared, the boy of the new generation and I
from the city.
We shared in secret his normal desire to grow, his wish for one of
my curls, a longing to go with me into my aloneness of the woods to
carve, and a promise that a tonsillectomy meant no more than a
scratch. I gave him this. His stoic mother gave him baby talk on occasions and a swig of Hudson's Bay Company artificial vanilla. If it had
been alcoholic as she imagined perhaps she would not have been that
generous but then again perhaps she would have given him her share
also.
At first this stunted boy did not eat well; then a few years before
your death your now sober mother contented you with the filling
starchy rations. After your end, however, you actually feasted, for
those of the village, as is the custom, ate for you your supply of starchy
rations. However, repeating, at first you ate poorly until that night forty-six
when the father lost his temper and your Catholic mother lost the
only "divine right" she appeared to respect wholly. It happened quite
intentionally. The priest took her at four o'clock from the drunken
roadside to lecture her straight home but somewhere along the straight
and narrow she took a bend that led up the church path. When the
path ended, surprisingly enough, there stood the church inside of which
hung the pull rope. By yet another odd coincidence when the rope was
pulled the bell tolled. It collected the entire village by 4:30 am. It also
summoned heaven's messenger, jolted him awake with the am. taste
of spleen between his teeth. Dutifully he told the old mother-before-
you-died the sad news that, because she was neglecting her children,
she would be "put on the list." Thus was this woman preserved, non-
alcoholically, to rear her children. Did she then learn to love them or
had she loved them even as she neglected them ? This comic figure.
Needless to say, she dared to put a spell upon the church, this witch.
Other spells she cast. One killed your murdered father the Mounties
said as they said in second breath, "But who cares about a damn
Indian?" I care about you Gerard with your stoic heart suppressed
into suffocation. How much does your self-widowed mother love this
seed of her departed? She cursed the hospital, cursed the crying
nurse, cursed the doctor who killed her ninth-child-to-die, "I want to
go with my baby, I want to go with my baby." She even cursed, with
less vehemence, your sister who took you comfortably enough to the
hospital because I told her how tonsillectomies were. But most your
mother cursed the medicine man who she claimed cast your death.
Me ? I was wholly reasonable and called it inevitable because I didn't
know the answer. Then because I am average I put guilt upon myself
as did the daughter of the transient generation.
There was much talk of suicide, Gerard, but I kept them constantly.
These people whose grief I shared would not die. I would see to that.
They lived. At the funeral to which everybody came with the look of
everydayness (even the corpse, I am told by the brother, looked
natural). I overstood and protected the deceased-living throwing frozen dirt on the deceased. When your mother rent her animalistic call
of physical pain as if of pregnancy's labour, I gave comfort. I held her
as she stamped her foot and crippled foot. She held me as she hit her
heart. Oh yes I kept them safe. It was not until later that I knew.
Later I took up to the hovel on my tongue the bitter pang of simple
fruit salad when even the emotion of taste is pitched high, and also
carried some fruit salad for your family. Then I listened to the guttural
of Slavie as they talked in their tongue and ate with ease the sweet
fruit. In english I heard how, as they played poker over the open forty-seven
coffin before your mother took the body to bed with her, they had
looked and knew they did not need to die. Your eyelids were closed
which plainly meant you did not need anyone to go with you. This
was good because otherwise my purpose of watching would have
needed to be work. After five length of days I slept and ate. Your
mother continued to play poker. Is it environment unto environment,
race unto race, nation to nation or only you and I, old Indian woman,
that grope without a common mind?
Your brown faces placid and pale with terror and mine yellowed
gave us the only true semblance we shared during the ordeal. Only
this Chinese-paled complexion made us similar. But mentally? I could
not play poker over the corpse. Is not reading the same? I could not
drink liquor on his death night. Is not sleeping the same? I could not
sleep with the cool body of Gerard. Is dreaming of Gerard not similar?
The family, does it share the feelings of an old woman of the other
generation ? Do all understand each, who live in this typical one-room
two-bed house of no privacy where people get to know each through
the process of osmosis? Is your sharing limited to the physical? Of
course you all concentrate now on knowing him that is gone beyond
knowing. But what of knowing each other?
My jigsaw mind is, after these five weeks of puzzling, as tired as my
body after those five days. This is not resting but weakening.
At the end of this spasmodic cycle, this circular spasm, I laze,
studying the broad elongated shadows of my eskimo art piece that is
two walrus. In a length they lie crosswise their sublime encumbrance.
They lie, their simple minds skin to skin and in harmony. forty-eight
BANGKOK BOY
by earle birney
On the hot
cobbles hoppity
he makes a jig up
this moppet
come alive from chocolate
sudden with all
small boys'
joy
dancing under the sun
that dances over the toy king's clawroof ed palace
and beats on the roof above the latest Hong Kong girlies
imported to strip to the beat of copulation
and shimmers over the broken-china towers
where ten thousand Buddhas
sit forever on other boys' ashes
In his own time
naked
laughing he
on the scene's edge
like a small monkey-
man
in the endless Ramayana
fresco
skips
that frozen fresco of old wars
under still another glittering Wat
where tourists worship in a regalia
of cameras, pacing out their grave
measures along the enormous stone-still god
or splaying to immortalize the splayed
gyrations of temple dancers forty-nine
Beat out brown
smallfry
beat out your own
wild
jive
under this strayed towering
tourist and his bright
strange cold—whee!—
coin in your small paws
before in his own motions he vanishes
in the fearful tempo of a taxi
to that spireless palace where god-tall
in their chalked goblin-faces all tourists
return to plod in pairs like water-buffalo
by a bare hotel pool to their funeral music
Prance this
dazzled instant
of your father's big
Buddha smile
and all the high
world bang in tune
the bright
sun caught
cool
before in the high world's dumpings
you are caught, slid lethewards
on choleric canals to where the poles of klongs
and rows of paddyfields are shaped
to bend small leaping backs
and the flat bellies of impets
are rounded with beriberi
Scamper little Thai
hot on these hot stones
scat, leap
this is forever O for
all gods' sakes beat
out that first
last cry
of joy under
the sun!
■I fifty
FIVE SONGS
»F A FOOL
by richard watson
i.
Roots gather round the friars
who died
slowly among the deadened flowers.
I am flesh become the word,
trying to lift the head above the soil.
Sing, I cry,
but my body treads upon my mind,
and I cry into the flowers.
2.
Christ, the goat, comes along the grass.
He breathes the air, and the air becomes his flesh.
Soon the meat is on the hook,
crook'd and cross'd:
I am hungry.
But the tomb within
the womb enslaves me
as I cry outside.
I wait, touching the stone, the soft tomb
of flesh, and place my flowers. Where they are
the careful person finds a scar
without its pain. fifty-one
3-
Feel the touch of stone in the groin.
Christ has made a long regression.
Now he kicks the side of the tomb.
Feel the stone against the groin.
Friar, fight your fire in the gloom
but don't put it out.
For naked poets can find their night
and not lose codpiece, liver or heart.
Feel the touch of stone on stone.
My own mouth is full of gristle
as friars tread me down.
The flesh is brittle.
4-
And yet my bestial heart is beating still.
May its echo last for another slow decade
until I develop only an intricate
scrawl
to catch the mystery as the fool
brightens into blinding night.
For only such a lurid saint can lick
the flames inside himself,
and consummate the pointless life of the toes,
the codpiece and the nose.
5-
Christ, as you fight your gloom in the fire
I sniff at an ancient paradox
in the draughts of death of the delicate tomb:
Even I am fire and air.
My other elements I give to a baser
life amongst the soil and rocks,
and only the hints which one suffers
remain
the hints of another redemption
slowly among the deadened flowers. fifty-two
The Merchant of Heaven
by margaret laurence
Across the tarmac the black-and-orange dragon lizards skitter, occasionally pausing to raise their wrinkled necks and stare with ancient
saurian eyes on a world no longer theirs. In the painted light of midday, the heat shimmers like molten golden glass. No shade anywhere.
You sweat like a pig, and inside the waiting-room you nearly stifle. The
African labourers, trundling baggage or bits of air-freight from hither
to yon, work stripped to the waist, their torsos sleek and darkly shining. The airport officials in their white drill uniforms are damp and
crumpled as gulls newly emerged from the shell.
In this purgatorially hot and exposed steambath I awaited with
some trepidation the arrival of Amory Lemon, proselytizer for a mission known as the Angel of Philadelphia. fifty-three
Above the buildings flew the three-striped flag—red, yellow and
green—with the black star of Africa in its centre. I wondered if the
evangelist would notice it or know what it signified. Very likely not.
Brother Lemon was not coming here to study political developments.
He was coming—as traders once went to Babylon—for the souls of
men.
I had never seen him before, but I knew him at once, simply because
he looked so different from the others who came off the plane—mostly
ordinary English people, weary and bored after the long trip, their
still-tanned skins indicating that this was not their first tour of the
tropics. Brother Lemon's skin was very white and smooth—it reminded
me of those sea-pebbles which as a child I used to think were the eyeballs of the drowned. He was unusually tall; he walked in a stately and
yet brisk fashion, with controlled excitement. I realized that this must
be a great moment for him. The apostle landing at Cyprus or Thessa-
lonica, the light of future battles already kindling in his eyes, and
replete with faith as a fresh-gorged mosquito is with blood.
"Mr. Lemon? I'm Will Kettridge—the architect. We've corresponded—"
He looked at me with piercing sincerity from those astonishing
turquoise eyes of his.
"Yes, of course," he said, grasping me by the hand. "I'm very pleased
to make your acquaintance. It surely was nice of you to meet me. The
name's Lee-Mora. Brother Lee-Mon. Accent on the last syllable. I
really appreciate your kindness, Mr. Kettridge."
I felt miserably at a disadvantage. For one thing, I was wearing khaki
trousers which badly needed pressing, whereas Brother Lemon was clad
in a dove-grey suit of a miraculously immaculate material; for another,
when a person interprets your selfish motive as pure altruism, what
can you tactfully say?
"Fine," I said. "Let's collect your gear."
Brother Lemon's gear consisted of three large wardrobe suitcases; a
pair of water-skis; a box which, from its label and size, appeared to
contain a gross of cameras but turned out to contain only a Rolliflex
and a cine-camera complete with projector and editing equipment; a
carton of an anti-malarial drug so new that we in this infested region
had not yet heard of it; and finally, a lovely little pigskin case which
enfolded a water-purifier.
Brother Lemon unlocked the case and took out a silvery mechanism.
His face glowed with a boyish fascination. fifty-four
"See? It works like a syringe. You just press this thing, and the
water is sucked up here. Then you squirt it out again, and there you
are. Absolutely guaranteed one hundred percent pure. Not a single
bacteria. You can even drink swamp water."
I was amused and rather touched. He seemed so frankly hopeful of
adventure. I was almost sorry this was not the Africa of Livingstone
or Richard Burton.
"Wonderful," I said. "The water is quite safe here, though. All properly filtered and chlorinated."
"You can't be too careful," Brother Lemon said. "I couldn't afford
to get sick—I'll be the only representative of our mission, for awhile
at least."
He drew in a deep breath of the hot salty tar-stinking air.
"I've waited six years for this day, Mr. Kettridge," he said. "Six
years of prayer and preparation."
"I hope the country comes up to your expectations, then."
He looked at me in surprise.
"Oh, it will," he said, with perfect equanimity. "Our mission, you
know, is based on the Revelation of St. John the Divine. We believe
there is a special message for us in the words given by the Spirit to the
Angel of the Church in Philadelphia—"
"A different Philadelphia, surely."
His smile was confident, even pitying.
"These things do not happen by accident, Mr. Kettridge. When
Andrew McFeeters had his vision, back in 1924, it was revealed that
the ancient Church would be reborn in our city of the same name, and
would take the divine word to unbelievers in seven different parts of
the world."
Around his head his fair hair sprouted and shone like some fantastic
marigold halo in a medieval painting.
"I believe my mission has been foretold," he said with stunning
simplicity. "I estimate I'll have a thousand souls within six months."
Suddenly I saw Brother Lemon as a kind of soul-purifier, sucking
in the septic souls and spewing them back one hundred percent pure.
That evening, I told Danso of my vague uneasiness. He laughed, as
I had known he would.
"Please remember you are an Englishman, Will," he said. "Englishmen should not have visions. It is not suitable. Leave that to Brother fifty-five
Lemon and me. Evangelists and Africans always get on well—did you
know? It is because we are both so mystical. Did you settle anything?"
"Yes, I'm getting the design work. He says he doesn't want contemporary for the church, but he's willing to consider it for his house."
"What did he say about money?" Danso asked. "That's what I'm
interested in."
"His precise words were—'the Angel of Philadelphia Mission isn't
going to do this thing on the cheap.' "
Danso was short and slim, but he made up for it in mercurial energy.
Now he crouched tigerish by the chaise-longue, and began feinting
with clenched fists like a bantamweight—which, as a matter of fact,
he used to be, before a scholarship to an English university and an
interest in painting combined to change the course of his life.
"Hey, come on, you Brother Lemon!" he cried. "That's it, man!
You got it and I want it—very easy, very simple. Bless you, Brother
Lemon, benedictions on your name, my dear citric sibling."
"I have been wondering," I said, "how you planned to profit from
Brother Lemon's presence."
"Murals, of course."
"Oh Danso, don't be an idiot. He'd never—"
"All right, all right, man. Pictures, then. A nice oil. Everybody
wants holy pictures in a church, see?"
"He'll bring them from Philadelphia," I said. "Four-tone prints,
done on glossy paper."
Danso groaned. "Do you really think he'll do that, Will?"
"Maybe not," I said encouragingly. "You could try."
"Listen—how about this ? St. Augustine, bishop of hippos."
"Hippo, you fool. A place."
"I know that," Danso said witheringly. "But, hell, who wants to
look at some fly-speckled North African town, all mudbrick and camel
dung? Brother Lemon wants colour, action, you know what I mean.
St. Augustine is on the riverbank, see, the Congo or maybe the Niger.
Bush all around. Ferns thick as a woman's hair. Palms—great big
feathery palms. But very stiff, very stylized—Rousseau stuff—like
this—"
His brown arms twined upward, became the tree trunks, and his
thin fingers the palmfans, precise, sharp in the sun.
"And in the river—real blue and green river, man, all sky and
scum—in that river is the congregation, only they're hippos, see—
enormous fat ones, all bulging eyes, and they're singing 'Hallelujah'
like the angels themselves, while old St. Augustine leads them to
paradise—" fifty-six
"Go ahead—paint it," I began, "and we'll—"
I stopped. My smile withdrew as I looked at Danso.
"Whatsamatter?" he said. "Don't you think the good man will
buy it?"
In his eyes there was an inexpressible loathing.
"Panso! How can you—? You haven't even met him yet."
The carven face remained ebony, remained black granite.
"I have known this peddler of magic all my life, Will. My mother
always took me along to prayer meetings, when I was small."
The mask slackened into laughter, but it was not the usual laughter.
"Maybe he thinks we are short of ju-ju," Danso remarked. "Maybe
he thinks we need a few more devils to exorcise."
When I first met Brother Lemon, I saw him as he must have seen
himself, an apostle. Now, remembering my glimpse of the soul-sani-
tizer, I could almost see him with Danso's bitter eyes—as sorcerer.
I undertook to show Brother Lemon around the city. He was impressed by the profusion and cheapness of tropical fruit; delightedly,
he purchased baskets of oranges, pineapples, pawpaw. He loaded himself down with the trinkets and knick-knacks of Africa—python skin
wallets, carved elephants, miniature 'dono' drums.
On our second trip, however, he began to notice other things. A boy
with suppurating yaws covering nearly as much of his body as did his
shreds of clothing. A loinclothed labourer carrying a headload so heavy
that his flimsy legs buckled and bent. A trader 'mammy' minding a
roadside stall on which her living was spread—half a dozen boxes of
cube sugar and a handful of pink plastic combs. A girl child squatting
modestly in the filth-flowing gutter. A grinning penny-pleading gamin
with a belly out-puffed by navel hernia. A young woman, pregnant and
carrying another infant on her back, her placid eyes growing all at once
proud and hating as we passed comfortably by. An old Muslim beggar
who howled and shouted sura from the Q'oran and then, silent, looked
and looked with the unclouded innocent eyes of lunacy. Brother Lemon
nodded absently as I dutifully pointed out the new Post Office, the
library, the Law Courts, the Bank. He seemed to be tiiinking of something else.
We reached shantytown, where the mud and wattle huts crowd
each other like fish in a net; where plantains are always frying on a
thousand smoky charcoal burners; where the rhythm of life is forever fifty-seven
that of the women's lifted and lowered wooden pestles as the cassava
is pounded into meal; where the crimson portulaca and the children
swarm over the hard soil and survive somehow, at what loss of individual blossom or brat one can only guess.
"It's a crime," Brother Lemon said, "that people should have to live
like this."
He made the mistake all kindly people make. He began to give
money to children and beggars—sixpences, shillings—thinking it would
help. He overpaid for everything he bought. He distributed largesse.
"These people are poor, real poor, Mr. Kettridge," he said seriously,
"and the way 1 figure it—if I'm able through the Angel of Philadelphia
Mission to ease their lives, then it's my duty to do so."
"Perhaps," I said. "But the shilling or two won't last long and then
what? You're not prepared to take them all on as permanent dependents, are you?"
He gazed at me blankly. I guess he thought I was stony-hearted. He
soon came to be surrounded by beggars wherever he went. They
swamped him; their appalling voices followed him down any street.
Fingerless hands reached out; halflimbs drag-hurried at his approach.
He couldn't cope with it, of course. Finally he began to turn away, as
ultimately we all turn, frightened and repelled by the outrageous pain
and need.
Brother Lemon was no different from any stranger casting his tiny
shillings into the wishful well of good intentions, and seeing them disappear without so much as a splash or tinkle. But unlike the rest of us,
he at least could console himself.
"Salvation is like the loaves and fishes," he said. "There's enough
for all, for every person in this world. None needs to go empty away."
He could hardly wait to open his mission. He frequently visited my
office, in order to discuss the building plans. He wanted me to hurry
with them, so construction could begin the minute his land-site was
allocated. I knew there was no hurry—he'd be lucky if he got the land
within six months—but he was so keen that I hated to discourage him.
He did not care for the hotel, where the bottles and glasses clinked
merrily the night through, disturbing his sombre slumbers. I helped
him find a house. It was a toy-size structure on the outskirts of the city;
it had once (perhaps in another century) been whitewashed, but now
it was ashen. Brother Lemon immediately had it painted azure. When
I remonstrated with him—why spend money on a rented bungalow ?—
he gave me an odd glance.
"I grew up on the farm," he said. "We never did get around to
painting that house." fifty-eight
He overpaid the workmen and was distressed when he discovered
one of them had stolen a gallon of paint. The painters, quite simply,
regarded Brother Lemon's funds as inexhaustible. But he did not understand and it made him unhappy. This was the first of myriad annoyances.
A decomposing lizard was found in his plumbing. The wiring was
faulty and his lights winked with persistent malice. The first cook he
hired turned to have b6th forged references and gonorrhoea.
Most of his life, I imagine, Brother Lemon had been fighting petty
battles in preparation for the great one. And now he found even this
battle petty. As he recounted his innumerable domestic difficulties, I
could almost see the silken banners turn to grey. He looked for dragons
to slay, and found cockroaches in his store-cupboard. Jacob-like, he
came to wrestle for the Angel's blessing, and instead was bent double
with cramps in his bowels from eating unwashed salad greens.
I was never tempted to laugh. Brother Lemon's faith was a quality
that defied ridicule. He would have preferred his trials to be on a
grander scale, but he accepted them with humility. One thing he could
not accept, however, was the attitude of his servants. Perhaps he had
expected to find an African Barnabas; in any event, he was disappointed. His cook was a decent enough chap, but he helped himself to tea
and sugar.
"I pay Kwaku half again as much as the going wage—you told me
so yourself. And now he does this."
"So would you," I said, "in his place."
"That's where you're wrong," Brother Lemon contradicted, so
sharply that I never tried that approach again.
"All these things are keeping me from my work," he went on plaintively. "That's the worst of it. I've been in the country three weeks
tomorrow, and I haven't begun services yet. What's the home congregation going to think of me?"
Then he knotted his big hands in sudden and private anguish.
"No—" he said slowly. "I shouldn't say that. It shouldn't matter to
me. The question is—what is the Almighty going to think?"
"I expect He's learned to be patient," I ventured clumsily.
But Brother Lemon hadn't even heard. He wore the fixed expression of a man beholding a vision.
"That's it," he said finally. "Now I see why I've been feeling so
letdown and miserable. It's because I've been putting off the work of
my mission. I had to look around—oh yes, see the sights, buy souvenirs.
Even my worry about the servants, and the people who live so poor
and all. I let these things distract me from my true work." fifty-nine
He stood up, there in his doll's house, an alabaster giant.
"My business," he said, "is with the salvation of their immortal souls.
That, and that alone. It's the greatest kindness I can do these people."
After that day, he was busy as a nesting bird. I met him one morning
in the Post Office, where he was collecting packages of Bibles. He
shook my hand in that casually formal way of his, and his eyes virtually blazoned the verity of his greeting.
"I reckon to start services within a week," he said. "I've rented an
empty lot, temporarily, and I'm having a shelter put up."
"You certainly haven't wasted any time lately."
"There isn't any time to waste," Brother Lemon's bell voice tolled.
"Later may be too late."
"You can't carry all that lot very far," I said. "Can I give you a
lift?"
"That's very friendly of you, Mr. Kettridge, but I'm happy to say
I've got my new car at last. Like to see it ?"
Outside, a dozen street urchins rushed up, and Brother Lemon allowed several to carry his parcels on their heads. We reached the
appointed place, and the little boys, tattered and dusty as fallen
leaves, lively as clickety-winged cockroaches, began to caper and jabber.
"Mastah—I beg you—you go dash me!"
A 'dash' of a few pennies was certainly in order. But Brother Lemon
gave them five shillings apiece. They fled before he could change his
mind. I couldn't help commenting wryly on the sum, but his eyes never
wavered.
"You have to get known somehow," Brother Lemon said. "Lots of
churches advertise nowadays."
He rode off, then, in his new, two-toned orchid Buick.
Brother Lemon must have been lonely. He knew no other Europeans,
and one evening he dropped in, uninvited, to my house.
"I've never explained our teaching to you, Mr. Kettridge," he said,
fixing me with his blue-polished eyes. "I don't know, mind you, what
your views on religion are^ or how you look at salvation—"
He was so pathetically eager to preach that I told him to go ahead.
He plunged into his spiel like the proverbial hart into cooling streams.
He spoke of the seven golden candlesticks, which were the seven
churches in Asia, and the seven stars—the seven angels of the churches.
The seven lamps of fire, the heavenly book sealed with seven seals, the
seven-horned Lamb which stood as it had been slain.
 :	 sixty
I had not read Revelation in years, but its weird splendour came
back to me as I listened to him. Man, however, is many-eyed as the
beasts around that jewelled throne. Brother Lemon did not regard the
Apocalypse as poetry.
"We have positive proof," he cried, "that the Devil—he who bears
the mark of the beast—shall be loosed out of his prison and shall go
out to deceive the nations."
This event, he estimated, was less than half a century away. Hence
the urgency of his mission, for the seven churches were to be reborn in
strategic spots throughout the world, and their faithful would spearhead the final attack against the forces of evil. Every soul saved now
would swell that angelic army; every soul unsaved would find the gates
of heaven eternally barred.
His face was taut and ecstatic. Around his head shone the terrible
nimbus of his radiant hair.
"Whosoever is not found written in the book of life will be cast into
the lake of fire and brimstone, and will be tormented day and night
for ever and ever. But the believers will dwell in the New Jerusalem,
where the walls are of jasper and topaz and amethyst, and the city is
of pure gold."
I could not find one word to say. I was thinking of Danso. Danso
as a little boy, in the evangel's meetingplace, listening to this same
sermon while the old gods of his own people still trampled through the
night-forests of his mind. The shadow-spirits of stone and tree, the
hungry gods of lagoon and grove, the fetish hidden in its hut of straw,
the dark soul-hunter Sasabonsam—to these were added the dragon,
the serpent, the mark of the beast, the lake of fire and the anguish of
the damned.
What had Danso dreamed about, those years ago, when he slept?
"I am not a particularly religious man," I said abruptly. "I'd rather
not discuss it."
"Well, ok.," he said regretfully. "Only—I like you, Mr. Kettridge,
and I'd like to see you saved."
Later that evening Danso arrived. I had tried to keep him from
meeting Brother Lemon. I felt somehow I had to protect each from the
other.
Danso was dressed in his old khaki pants and a black mammycloth
shirt patterned with yellow diamonds. He was all harlequin tonight.
He dervished into the room, swirled a bow in the direction of Brother sixty-one
Lemon, whose mouth had dropped open, then spun around and presented me with a pile of canvases.
Danso knew it was not fashionable, but he painted people. A globe-
hipped market mammy stooped while her friends loaded on her head-
pan. A Hausa trader, encased in his long embroidered robe like some
Muslin Merlin, looked haughtily on while boys with stick-limbs floated
stick-boats down a gutter. A line of little girls in their light yellow
mission-school dresses walked lightfoot back from the well, with buckets on their heads.
A hundred years from now, when the markets and shanties have been
supplanted by hygienic skyscrapers, when the gutters no longer reek,
when pidgin English has grown from the patois it is now into a sedate
language boasting grammar-texts and patriotic poems, then Africans
will look nostalgically at Danso's pictures of the old teeming days, and
will probably pay fabulous prices. At the moment, however, Danso
could not afford to marry, and were it not for his kindly but conservative uncles, who groaned and complained and handed over a pound
here, ten shillings there, he would not have been able to paint, either.
I liked the pictures. I held one of them up for Brother Lemon to see.
"Oh yes, a market scene," he said vaguely. "Say, that reminds me,
Mr. Kettrdige. Would you like me to bring over my colour slides some
evening? I've taken six rolls of film so far, and I haven't had one
failure."
Danso, slit-eyed and lethal, coiled himself up like a spitting-cobra.
"Colour slides, eh?" he hissed softly. "Very fine—who wants paintings if you can have the real thing? But one trouble—you can't use
them in your church. Every church needs pictures. Does it look like a
church, with no pictures? Of course not. Just a cheap meetingplace,
that's all. Real religious pictures. What do you say, Mr. Lemon?"
I did not know whether he hoped to sell a painting, or whether the
whole thing was one of his elaborate farces. I don't believe he knew.
Brother Lemon's expression stiffened.
"Are you a Christian, Mr. Danso ?"
Immediately Danso's demeanor altered. His muscular grace was
transformed into the seeming self-effacement of a spiritual grace. Even
the vivid viper-markings of his mammycloth shirt appeared to fade
into something quiet as mouse-fur or monk-habit.
"Of course," Danso said with dignity. "I am several times a Christian. I have been baptised into the Methodist, Baptist and Roman
Catholic churches, and one or two others whose names I forget."
He laughed at Brother Lemon's rigid face.
"Easy, man—I didn't mean it. I am only once a Christian—that's
J sixty-two
better, eh? Even then, I may be the wrong kind. So many, and each
says his is the only one. The Akan church was simpler."
"Beg pardon?"
"The Akan church, man—African," Danso snapped his fingers.
"Didn't you know we had a very fine religion here before ever a white
man came?"
"Idolatry, paganism," Brother Lemon said. "I don't call that a
religion."
Danso had asked for it, admittedly, but now he was no longer able
to hold around himself the cloak of usual mockery.
"You are thinking of fetish," he said curtly. " But that is not all.
There may be a lot of gods, Mr. Lemon, but the most important aren't
worshipped through images. How about that? Invisible, intangible—
real proper gods. And above all others is Nyame the Creator. In time,
if we'd been left alone, our gods would have grown, as yours did, into
One. It was happening already—we needed only a prophet. But now
our prophet will never come. Sad, eh?"
And he laughed. I could see he was already furious at himself for
having spoken. Danso was a chameleon who felt it was self-betrayal
to show his own original hues. He told me once he sympathized with
the old African belief that it is dangerous to tell a stranger all your
name, as it gives him power over you.
Brother Lemon pumped the bellows of his preachervoice.
"Paganism in any form is an abomination! I'm surprised at you, a
Christian, defending it, Mr. Danso. In the words of Jeremiah—'Pour
out thy fury upon the heathen!' "
"You pour it out, man," Danso said, with studied languor. "You
got lots to spare."
Danso had been brought up a Christian by his parents. But he had
grown to know the ancient gods through his grandfather, who still
worshipped them. Danso rarely spoke of such matters, and then almost
always flippantly, but I had gathered from his various oblique remarks
an impression of his childhood's ambiguity. The demons that walked
spider-soft in the listening night and stalked even Christian boys protesting under shuddering blankets their pious disbelief. The fretful
voices of the wandering dead heard in rain, and the forest spirits who
snatched and snared through treeroot or vine the boy who believed in
God and could not therefore feed them the palmwine and eggs they
craved. Forbidden and beckoning, the charms and phylacteries which
only gradually had he realized were more potent in killing by terror
than they were in healing by faith. The menace in a hank of hair and
splinter of horn; the Cross-sign hastily performed to ward off an evil sixty-three
whose existence he dared not acknowledge. Hidden and only half-
admitted as it was, the heritage of fears had taken more years to fade
than Danso would ever say. Nevertheless, he had always recognized
that these shroud-trappings, although they were the part most easily
communicated to an imaginative child, were not the whole of his
grandfather's religion. To Danso, the word 'pagan' meant only the
fear-producing aspects of any religion. Fetish and witchcraft came
under that heading; so, also, did the evangel's hell. But the old Akan
devoutly washing his soul at the proper times, to keep it from harm or
hate, and seeing above all lesser gods a mother-father of Creation—
that was a different matter entirely. The simplicity of Brother Lemon's
Jeremiah-cry against the heathen must have been incomprehensible
to Danso.
Brother Lemon knew nothing of these subtleties, however, nor of the
inadvisability of suggesting to a man that he exile into damnation a
well-loved grandsire. The evangelist merely looked perplexed and repelled.
Danso began leafing through the Bible that was Brother Lemon's
invariable companion, and suddenly he leapt to his feet.
"Here you are!" he cried. "For a painting. The throne of heaven,
with all the elders in white, and the many-eyed beasts saying 'holy,
holy'—what about it?"
He was perfectly serious. One might logically assume that he had
given up any thought of a religious painting, but not so. The terrifying
brilliance of the apocalyptic vision had caught his imagination, and he
frowned in concentration, as though he were already planning the
arrangement of figures and the colours he would use.
Brother Lemon looked flustered. Then he snickered. I was unprepared, and the ugly little sound startled me.
"You?" he said. "You? To paint the throne of heaven?"
Danso snapped the Book shut. His face was volcanic rock, hard and
dark seeming to bear the marks of the violence that formed it. Then
his smile, acid-etched on a stoneself.
"Hath not a Jew eyes?"
Brother Lemon looked at me enquiringly. I mumbled the source. A
dull crimson stained Brother Lemon's pallid face.
"Oh—a quotation. Well, just what do you mean by that Mr.
Danso? "
Danso picked up his pictures and walked out of the house.
"Well I must say there was no need for him to go and fly off the
handle like that," Brother Lemon said indignantly. "What's wrong
with him anyway?"
J sixty-four
He was not being facetious. He really didn't know. I swear I had
intended to blast him, but instead I only stared at him curiously.
"Mr. Lemon," I asked at last, "don't you ever—not even for an
instant—have any doubts?"
His eyes were genuinely puzzled.
"What do you mean—doubts ?"
"Don't you ever wonder if salvation is—well—yours, to dole out ? To
people you don't understand at all ? How do you know what salvation
represents to them?"
"No—" Brother Lemon replied slowly. "No—I don't have any
doubts about that. I don't have any doubts about my religion, Mr.
Kettridge. Why, without my religion, I'd be nothing."
I wondered how many drab years he must have lived, years like
unpainted houses, before he set out to find his golden candlesticks and
jewelled throne in far places.
By the time Danso and I got around to visiting the Angel of Philadelphia Mission, Brother Lemon had made considerable headway. The
temporary meetingplace was a large open framework of poles, roofed
with sun-whitened palm boughs. Rough benches had been set up inside,
and at the front was Brother Lemon's pulpit, a mahogany box draped
with delphinium-coloured velvet. A wide silken banner proclaimed 'Ye
Shall Be Saved'.
At the back of the hall, a long table was being guarded by muscular
white-robed converts armed with gilt staves. I fancied it must be some
sort of communion set-up, but Danso, after a word in Twi with one of
the men, enlightened me. Those who remained for the entire service
would receive a free glass of orange squash and a piece of kenkey. Thus
the attendance of at least every hungry derelict in the city was assured.
Danso and I stationed ourselves unobtrusively at the back, and
watched the crowd pour in. Mainly women, they were. Market woman
and fishwife, quail-plump and bawdy, sweet-oiled flesh gleaming
brownly, gaudy as melons in tradecloth and headscarf. Young women
with sleeping children strapped to their backs by the covercloth. Old
women whose unsmiling eyes had witnessed how much death and now
were left with nothing to share their huts and hearts. Silent as sand-
crabs, frightened and fascinated, women who scuttled and sidled in,
making themselves slight and unknown, as though apologizing for their
presence on earth. Crones and destitutes, filthy rags flapping, shrunken \
sixty-five
skins scarcely covering their insistent bones ,dried dugs hanging loose
and shrivelled, women who came for food or hope or god knows what.
Seven boys, splendidly uniformed in white and scarlet, turbanned
in gold, fidgetted and tittered their way into the hall, each one carrying his fife or drum. Danso began to laugh.
"Did you wonder how he trained a band so quickly, Will? They're
all from other churches. I'll bet that cost him a good few shillings. He
said he wasn't going to do things on the cheap."
I was glad Danso was amused. He had been sullen and tense all
evening, and had changed his mind a dozen times about coming.
The band began to whistle and boom. The women's voices shrilled in
hymn. Slowly, regally, his bright hair gleaming like every crown in
Christendom, Brother Lemon entered his temple. Over his orlon suit
he wore a garment that resembled an academic gown, except that his
was a resplendent peacock-blue, embroidered with stars, seven in number. He was followed by seven mites or sprites, somebody's offspring,
each carrying a large brass candlestick complete with lighted taper.
These gold-symbols were placed at intervals across the platform, and
each attendant stood wide-eyed behind his charge, like small bedazzled
genii.
Brother Lemon raised both arms. Silence. He began to speak, pausing from time to time in order that his two interpreters might translate into Ga and Twi. Although most of his listeners could not understand the words of Brother Lemon himself, they could scarcely fail to
perceive his compulsive fire.
In the flickering flarelight of torches and tapers, the smokelight of
the smothering sweat-stinking dark, Brother Lemon seemed to stretch
tall as a shadow, tall as the pale horseman at night when children cry
in their sleep.
Beside me, Danso sat quietly, never stirring; his face was blank and
his eyes were shuttered.
The sun would become black as sackcloth of hair, and the moon
would become as blood. In Brother Lemon's voice the seven trumpets
sounded, and the fire and hail were cast upon earth. The bitter
star fell upon the fountains of waters; the locusts of hell emerged with
wings like the sound of chariots. And for the unbelieving and idolatrous—plague and flagellation and sorrow.
The women moaned and chanted. The evening was hot and dank,
and the wind from the sea did not reach here. Fear rivuleted like
sweat in the trembling night.
"Do you think they really do believe, though?" I whispered to
Danso. sixty-six
"If you repeat something often enough, someone will believe you.
The same people go to the fetish priest, this man's brother."
But I looked at Brother Lemon's face, white as gravestone, grave
as graven whitestone.
"He believes what he says."
"A wizard always believes in his own powers," Danso said.
Now Brother Lemon's voice softened. The thunders and trumpets of
impending doom died, and their was hope. He told them how they
could join the ranks of saints and angels; how the serpent-dragon
could be quelled forevermore. He told them of the New Jerusalem,
with its walls of crysolyte and beryl and jacinth, with its twelve gates
each of a single pearl. His voice sang like the wind.
And the women shouted and swayed. Tears like the rains of spring
moistened their parched and praising faces. I felt uneasy, but I did
not know why.
"My people," Danso  remarked,  "drink  dreams  like palmwine."
"What is the harm in that?"
"Oh nothing. But if you dream too long, nothing else matters. Listen
—he is telling them that life on earth doesn't matter. So the guinea
worm stays in the flesh. The children still fall into the pit latrines and
die with excrement in their mouths. And women sit for all eternity,
breaking building-stone with hammers for two shillings a day."
Brother Lemon was calling them up to the front. Come up, come up,
all ye who would be saved.
"See?" Danso said. "He feeds on souls. He is always hungry. Nothing
can satisfy him."
In front of the golden candlesticks of brass the women jostled and
shoved, eagerly grasping at glory, kneeling and moaning, hands outstretched. Half in a trance, a woman walked puppet-stiff to the evangel's throne; her voice keened and beseeched; she fell and writhed,
forehead in the red dust.
"Look at that one," I said with open curiosity. "She's—she seems
almost hypnotized—"
Danso did not reply. I glanced at him. He sat with his head bowed,
and his hands were slowly clenching and unclenching, as though
cheated of some throat.
We walked back silently through the low-humming streets.
"My mother," Danso said finally, "will not see a doctor. She has a
lot of pain. So what can I do ?"
"What's the matter with her?"
"A malignant growth. She believes everything will be all right in a
very short time. Everything will be solved. Of course, he says fifty sixty-seven
years, but that makes no difference to her. She thinks—a few months,
maybe, a year at most—"
"I don't see—"
Danso looked at me.
"She was the woman who fell down," he said, "who fell down there
at his feet."
Danso's deepset eyes were fathomless and dark as sea; life could
drown there.
The next morning Brother Lemon phoned and asked me to accompany him to the African marketplace. He seemed disturbed, so I
agreed, although without enthusiasm.
"Where are the ju-ju stalls?" he enquired, when we arrived.
"The—whatever for?"
"I've heard a very bad thing," he said grimly, "and I want to see
if it's true."
So I led him past the stalls piled with green peppers and tomatoes
and groundnuts, past the tailors whirring on their treadle sewing machines, past trader women in wheel-like hats of woven rushes, and
babies creeping like lost toads through the centipede-legged crowd. In
we went, into the dark recesses of a labyrinthian shelter, always shadowed and cool, where the stalls carried the fetish priests' stock-in-
trade, the raw materials of magic. Dried root, parrot beak, snail shell,
vertebrae of god-only-knows, chunks of sulphur and bluestone, cowrie
shells and strings of bells. And a thousand more.
Brother Lemon's face was strained, skin stretched luminous over
sharp bones. I only realized then how thin he had grown. He searched
and searched, and finally he found what he had hoped not to find.
At a little stall in a corner, the sort of place you would never find
again once you were outside the maze, a young girl sat. She was selling
crudely carved wooden figures, male and female, of a type used to kill
by sorcery.
I liked the look of the girl. She wasn't more than seventeen, and her
eyes were almond and daylight. She was laughing, although she sold
death. I half expected Brother Lemon to speak to her, but he did not.
He turned away.
"All right," he said. "We can go now."
"You know her? Is that why—?"
"She joined my congregation," he said heavily. "Last week, she
came up to the front—and was saved. Or so I thought." sixty-eight
"This is her livelihood, after all," I said, inadequately. "Anyway,
they can't all be a complete success."
"I wonder how many are," Brother Lemon said. "I wonder if any
are."
I almost told him of one real success he had had. How could I ? The
night before I could see only Danso's point of view, yet now, looking
at the evangelist's face, I came close to betraying Danso. But I stopped
myself in time. And the thought of last night's performance made me
suddenly angry.
"What do you expect?" I burst out. "Even Paul nearly got torn to
pieces by the Ephesians defending their goddess. And who knows—■
maybe Diana was better for them than Jehovah. She was theirs,
anyway."
Brother Lemon gazed at me as though he could hardly believe I had
spoken the words. A thought of the design contract flitted through
my mind, but when you've gone so far, you can't go back.
"What do you give them," I demanded, "that's any better or any
different from all this? I don't know how you interpret your golden
candlesticks and gates of pearl and many-eyed beasts, but I know
damn well how they do—the desperate and the ignorant, the ones who
go because they've tried everywhere else. They see it as ju-ju, Mr.
Lemon, just a new kind of ju-ju. That's all."
He stared, and all at once I was sorrier than I could possibly say.
Why the devil had I spoken? Words only destroy. He couldn't comprehend, and if he ever did, he would be finished and done for.
"That's—not true—" he stammered. "That's—why, that's an awful
thing to say."
And it was. It was.
This city had assimilated many gods. A priest of whatever faith
would not have had to stay here long in order to realize that the competition was stiff. I heard indirectly that Brother Lemon's conversions,
after the initial success of novelty, were tailing off. The Homowo festival was absorbing the energies of the Ga people as they paid homage
to the ancient gods of the coast. A touring faith-healer from Rhodesia
was drawing large crowds. The Baptists staged a parade. The Roman
Catholics celebrated a saint's day, and the Methodists parried with a
picnic. A new god arrived from the northern deserts and its priests
were claiming for it marvellous powers in overcoming sterility. The \
sixty-nine
oratory of a visiting imam from Nigeria was boosting the local strength
of Islam. And so it went.
Allah has ninety-nine names, say the Muslims. But in this city, He
must have had nine hundred and ninety-nine, at the very least. I
remembered Brother Lemon's brave estimate—a thousand souls within
six months. He was really having to scrabble for them now.
I drove over to the meetingplace one evening to take some building
plans. The service was over, and I found Brother Lemon, still in his
blue and starred robe, frantically looking for one of his pseudo-golden
candlesticks which had disappeared. He was enraged, because he was
positive that someone had stolen it.
"Those candlesticks were specially made for my mission, and each
member of the home congregation contributed towards them. It's certainly going to look bad if I have to write back and tell them one's
missing—"
But the candlestick had not been stolen. Brother Lemon came into
my office the following day to tell me. He stumbled over the words as
though they were a matter of personal shame to him.
"It was one of my converts. He—borrowed it. He told me his wife
was barren. He said he wanted the condlestick so he could touch her
belly with it. He said he'd tried plenty of other—fetishes, but none had
worked. So he thought this one might work."
He avoided my eyes.
"I guess you were right," he said.
Then he put one of his massive hands up to the silver pallor of his
face.
"What am I going to do? What can I do?"
"You shouldn't take it so hard," I said awkwardly. "After all, you
can't expect miracles."
He looked at me, bewildered.
His discoveries were by no means at an end. The most notable of
all occurred the night I went over to his bungalow for dinner and
found him standing bleak and fearful under the flame tree, surrounded
by half a dozen shouting and gesticulating ancients who shivered with
years and anger. Gaunt and rib-ridged as pariah dogs, bleached tatters
fluttering like wind-worn prayer flags, a delegation of mendicants—
come to wring from the next world the certain mercy they had not
found in this. seventy
"What's going on?" I asked.
Brother Lemon looked unaccountably relieved to see me.
"There seems to have been some misunderstanding," he said. "Maybe you can make sense of what they say."
The old men turned milky eyes to me, and I realized with a start
that every last one of them was blind. Their leader spoke pidgin.
"Dis man—" waving in Brother Lemon's direction, "he say, meka
we come heah, he go find we some shade place, he go dash we plenty
plenty chop, he mek all t'ing fine too much, he mek we eye come
strong. We wait long time, den he say 'go, you'. We no savvy dis
palavah. I beg you, mastah, you tell him we wait long time."
"I never promised anything," Brother Lemon said helplessly. "They
must be crazy."
Screeched protestations from the throng. They pressed around him,
groping and grotesque beside his ivory height and his eyes. The tale
emerged, bit by bit. Somehow, they had received the impression that
the evangelist intended to throw a feast for them, at which, in the
traditional African manner, a sheep would be throat-slit and sacrificed,
then roasted and eaten. Palmwine would flow freely. Brother Lemon,
futhermore, would restore, through his magic, the use of their eyes.
Brother Lemon's voice was unsteady.
"How could they ? How could they think—"
"Who's your Ga interpreter ?" I asked.
Brother Lemon looked startled.
"Oh no. He wouldn't say things I hadn't said. He's young, but he's
a good boy. It's not just a job to him, you know. He's been really
interested in the work of the mission. He'd never—"
"All the same, I think it would be wise to send for him."
The interpreter seemed a reasonably good lad, although perhaps
not in quite the way Brother Lemon meant. This was his first job, and
he was performing it with all possible enthusiasm and verve. But his
English vocabulary and his knowledge of fundamentalist doctrine
were both strictly limited. He had not put words into Brother Lemon's
mouth. He had only translated them in his own way, and the listening
beggars had completed the transformation of text by hearing what
they wanted to hear.
In a welter of words in two tongues, the interpreter and Brother
Lemon sorted out the mess. The ancients still clung to him, though,
clawhands plucking at his dove-grey suit. He pulled away from them,
almost in desperation, and on his face was an expression of such horror
and revulsion that at first I could not comprehend it. Then it became
clear. seventy-one
"They don't understand—" he said. "I thought they understood the
word of the living God. But they don't understand at all. Not at all."
They left, finally, perhaps warned by some nerve-stretch in his voice.
They did not know why they were being sent away, but they were not
really surprised, for hope to them must always have been suspect.
Brother Lemon did not see old men trailing eyeless out of his yard
then and back to the begging streets. He saw something quite different
—a procession of souls, all of whom would have to be saved again.
The text that caused the confusion was from chapter seven of
Revelation.
'They shall hunger no more, neither thirst any more; neither shall
the sun light on them, nor any heat. For the Lamb which is in the
midst of the throne shall feed them, and shall lead them unto living
fountains of waters, and God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes.'
I thought I would not see Brother Lemon again for awhile, but a
few days later there he was at my office once more. Danso was in the
back, working out some colour-schemes for a new school I was doing,
and I hoped he would not come into the main office. Brother Lemon
came right to the point.
"The municipal authorities have given me my building-site, Mr.
Kettridge."
"Good," I said. "That's fine."
"No, it's not fine," Brother Lemon said. "That's just what it's not."
"What's the matter? Where is it?"
"Right in the middle of shanty town."
"Well?"
"It's all right for the mission, perhaps, but they won't give me a
separate site for my house."
"I wasn't aware that you wanted a separate site."
"I didn't think there would be any need for one," he said. "I certainly didn't imagine they'd put me there. You know what that place
is like."
He made a gesture of appeal.
"It isn't that I mind Africans, Mr. Kettridge. Honest to goodness, it
isn't that at all. But shantytown—the people live so close together, and
it smells so bad, and at night the drums and that lewd dancing they
do   and the idolatry. I can't—I don't want to be reminded every
minute—"
He broke off and we were silent. Then he sighed. "They'd always be asking—" he said, "for things I can't give. It's
not my business, anyway. It's not up to me. I won't be kept from my
work.
I made no comment. The turquoise eyes once more glowed with
proselytizing zeal. He towered; his voice cymballed forth.
"Maybe you think I was discouraged recently. Well, I was. But I'm
not going to let it get me down. I tell you straight, Mr. Kettridge, I
intend to salvage those souls, as many as I can, if I have to give my
very life to do it."
And seeing his resilient radiance, I could well believe it. But I drew
him back to the matter at hand.
"It would be a lot easier if you accepted this site, Mr. Lemon. Do
you think, perhaps, a wall—"
Brother Lemon shook his head. The light went from his eyes. He
looked sick.
"I can't," he said. "I—I'm sorry, but I just can't. I thought if you'd
speak to the authorities. You're an Englishman—"
I told him I had no influence in high places. I explained gently that
this country was no longer a colony. But Brother Lemon only regarded
me mournfully, as though he thought I had betrayed him.
"I'll have to go myself, then, and see them about it," he said. "I'd
sure rather have you do it, but if you won't—"
When he had gone, I turned and there was Danso, lean as a leopard,
draped in the doorway.
"Yes," he said, "I heard. At least he's a step further than the slavers.
Most of them didn't admit we had souls."
"It's not that simple, Danso—"
"I didn't say it was simple," Danso corrected. "It must be quite a
procedure—to tear the soul out of a living body, and throw the inconvenient flesh away like fruit rind."
"He doesn't want to live in that area," I tried ineffectually to explain, "because in some way the people there are a threat to him, to
everything he is—"
"Good," Danso said. "That makes it even. Because he's a threat to
them, too."
I saw neither Danso nor Brother Lemon for several weeks. The plans
for the mission were still in abeyance, and for the moment I almost
forgot about them. Then one evening Danso ambled in, carrying a
large wrapped canvas.
"What's this?" I asked. seventy-three
He grinned.
"My church picture," he said. "The one I have done for Brother
Lemon."
I reached out, but Danso pulled it away.
"No, Will. I want Brother Lemon to be here. You ask him to come
over."
"Not without seeing the picture," I said. "How do I know what
monstrosity you've painted?"
"No—I swear it—you don't need to worry."
I was not entirely convinced, but I phoned Brother Lemon. Somewhat reluctantly he agreed, and within twenty minutes we heard the
Buick scrunching on the gravel drive.
Brother Lemon looked worn out. His unsuccessful haggling with the
understandably recalcitrant municipal authorities seemed to have exhausted him. He had been briefly ill with malaria despite his up-to-
date preventative drugs. I couldn't help remembering how he had
looked that first morning at the airport, confidently stepping onto the
alien soil of his chosen Thessalonica, to take up his ordained role.
"Here you are, Mr. Lemon," Danso said. "I painted a whole lot of
stars and candlesticks and other junk in the first version, then I threw
it away and did this one instead."
He unwrapped the painting and set it up against a wall. It was a
picture of the Nazarene.
Danso had not portrayed any emaciated mauve-veined ever-sorrowful Jesus. This man had the body of a fisherman or a carpenter. He was
well-built; He had strong wrists and arms. His eyes were capable of
laughter. Danso had shown Him with a group of beggars, sore-fouled,
their mouths twisted in perpetual leers of pain.
Danso was looking at me questioningly.
"It's the best you've done yet," I said.
He nodded and turned to Brother Lemon. The evangelist's eyes were
fixed on the picture. He did not seem able to look away. For a moment
I thought he had caught the essential feeling of the thing—an acceptance of all beings, however broken outwardly or inwardly.
"What do you say?" Danso asked finally.
Brother Lemon blinked and withdrew his gaze from the painting.
His tall frame sagged, as though he had been struck and—yes—hurt.
The old gods he could fight; he could grapple with and overcome every
obstacle, even his own pity. But this was a threat he had never anticipated. He spoke in a low voice.
"Do you really see—Him—like that? Do many—do all of you—see
Him like that?" seventy-four
He didn't wait for an answer. Perhaps he knew it. He did not look
at Danso or myself as he left the house. We heard the orchid Buick
pull away.
The thing was that Danso had painted Jesus as an African.
Danso and I did not talk much. We drank beer and looked at the
picture for quite a long tune. There was a sense of finality about that
evening.
"When I first thought of it," Danso said at last, "I was going to do a
caricature—fetish-mask stuff. I thought I would really shock him."
"What made you change your mind ?"
Danso set down his glass and ran one finger lightly over the painting.
Then he shrugged.
"I don't know. It just came to me, I guess, that if I'd painted it that
first way—I would have lost."
I was paid for the work I had done, but the new mission was never
built. Brother Lemon did not obtain another site, and in a few months,
his health—as they say—broke down. He returned whence he had
come, and I have not heard anything about the Angel of Philadelphia
Mission from that day to this.
Somewhere, perhaps, he is still preaching, heaven and hell pouring
from his apocalyptic eyes, and around his head that aureole, hair the
colour of light. Whenever Danso mentions him, however, it is always
as the magician, the peddler who bought souls cheap and sold dear
his cabalistic word. But I no longer think of Brother Lemon as either
apostle or sorcerer.
I bought Danso's picture. Sometimes, when I am able to see through
black and white until they merge and cease to be separate or apart, I
look at those damaged creatures clustering so despairingly hopeful
around the Son of Man, and it seems to me that Brother Lemon,
after all, is one of them. seventy-fit
a
55
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MORLEY CALLAGHAN'S STORIES
September 25, 1959 approximate price $4.50
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OF THE ESKIMO
Here I stand,
Humble, with outstretched arms.
For the spirit of the air
Lets glorious food sink down to me.
Here I stand
Surrounded with great joy.
For a caribou bull with high antlers
Recklessly exposed his flanks to me.
— Oh, how I had to crouch
In my hide.
But, scarcely had I
Hastily glimpsed his flanks
When my arrow pierced them
From shoulder to shoulder.
And then, when you, lovely caribou
Let the water go
Out over the ground
As you tumbled down,
Well, then I fell surrounded with great joy.
Here I stand.
Humble, with outstretched arms,
For the spirit of the air
Lets glorious food sink down to me.
Here I stand.
^nfciuft °Bag dompangi.
Igpakuhak.
Victoria Land.
INCORPORATED   2-" MAY I07O

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