PRISM international

Prism international Prism international 1973

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Winter igy$
Si-75  Editor-in-Chief    michael bullock
Associate Editors    douglas bankson
Managing Editor    penelope lowenthal
Editorial Assistants    harold ober
Secretary    lynette pretty
WINTER  1973
Three Poems inger christensen 9
Three Poems cecil bodker 12
Two Poems tove ditlevsen 16
Two Poems terese svoboda 18
Two Poems derk wynand 46
Two Poems seymour mayne 48
Two Poems susan musgrave 50
Two Poems jacques prevert 54
Three Poems george jonas 76
Three Poems niko grafenauer 82
Three Poems heinz piontek 94
Deep Glance triandafillos pittas 97
Two Poems r. d. swets 108
Two Poems nadina demetriou i 10
Two Poems Florence mc neil 118
October, a Chill Stephen tapscott 127
Mail HELEN J. rosta 4
A Good Time In
The Old Town diana g. collier 20
The Next Best Thing
To Being There lee k. abbott, jr. 29
The Warrens'Place ann barry 41
The Hunter eugene k. garber 56 The Pious Cat yitzok leib peretz
There Was A Crooked Man kent c. biel
Sunflowers dave margoshes
The Death of Buddy Holly eugene mc namara
In Manitoba w. d. valgardson
Pigeons irene Friedman
The cover drawing, Soft Hand Grenade With Fresh Wounds, and the reproductions inside are from drawings and etchings by Rikki (Erika Ducornet), who
was born in the United States and moved to Canada in 1968. She has had
several one-woman shows in the U.S.A. and Canada and has participated in
group shows in many parts of the world. She is also well known for her book
and magazine illustrations.
PRISM international, a journal of contemporary writing, is published three
times a year by the Department of Creative Writing at the University of British
Columbia, Vancouver 8, B.C. Annual subscriptions are $5.00, single copies
$1.75, obtainable by writing to the Editors at that address. Microfilm editions
are available from University Microfilms, Ann Arbor, Michigan, and reprints
(vols. 1-5) from the Kraus Reprint Corporation, NYC. Helen J. Rosta is a social worker with the Edmonton Public School Board.
One of her short stories has appeared in The Fiddlehead and another will be
published shortly in the Journal of Canadian Fiction. She has also had poems
published and won the Edmonton Journal Literary contest for a play, 1972, and
a short story, 1973.
Yesterday there were two pamphlets and a bill. And the day
before.. . . Down on the street the cars stream into the city. The
pavement glitters like water. A patch of flowers is a red splotch on
the lawn. The mailman crosses the lawn, moving toward the flowers.
She wants to call down to him but the roar of the cars rises in a
crescendo. She closes her eyes and a scarlet bird plummets like a
meteor across her lids. ... She does not open her eyes again until she
hears the shouts rising up to her.
Even in summer the apartment is dark.
He does not look up. He is tearing a slice of bread into tiny pieces
and molding them into pellets which he is dropping beside his breakfast plate. He flicks the pellets from his fingertips and smells first one
hand, then the other, bending the fingers backwards, drawing each
hand slowly down his long delicate nose. His hands look older than
the rest of him, curiously bleached as if they had lain longer in her
The clock above the kitchen sink says nine-thirty, almost time for
the mail.
"Richard." Even when he looks at her, she is not sure that he sees
her. She scrapes the congealed egg from his plate into the garbage.
He has made little whorls in the yolk.
Her coffee is cold. The table is covered with damp, grey pellets of
bread, like dirty snow. The clock makes a soft humming sound. Its
hands move slowly.
"Richard. Do you hear me? Stop that! She reaches across the
table, grasping him under the chin, forcing his face upwards, to- wards her. She feels the resistance in his body, the shrinking away
from her touch. His skin feels cold as a shell.
"Look at me." He raises his eyes to hers. His eyes are as pale and
translucent as jelly. Her gaze seems to sink into them. A cave lies
behind his eyes, a bone-white cave full of cunning, empty passages
where the sound of her voice must reverberate.
Sometimes her words return like echos out of his mouth.
"Look at me."
me me me me me
Yesterday there were two pamphlets and a bill. And the day
before he got a bill from Murrays and he said can't you keep him
from tearing up his clothing? And the day before... .
He has begun to remold the pellets. She lays her hands over his.
The thin fingers move restlessly like animals under her palms. In the
fluorescent Ught his eyelashes are silver and his skin the colour of
. .. can't you take him out in the sun once in a while? For God's
sake can't you take him out.. . ?
"Gome on, Richard. Let's go out to the nice sunny balcony. Let's
go look which way Daddy's car went."
His fingernails are sharp as claws. "Richard, you're hurting
Mummy. Mummy doesn't want to slap you. . .. Mummy doesn't
want to slap you, Richard. Let's go see which way Daddy's car went,
Richard. Going for a ride in the car, car. Going for a ride in the car.
Remember the time we went with Daddy, Richard, and Mummy
Going for a ride in the car,
Going for a ride in the car.
and we went with Daddy to his office. Remember Daddy's nice
office and you locked yourself in the bathroom and Daddy was
angry. Mummy can't watch you all the time...."
Time. The mailman crosses the lawn... .
Even in summer the apartment is dark. She notices a faint, musty
smell. She tightens her grip on his hands. "Come on, Richard, be a
good boy. Be a good boy for Mummy. Mummy wants to love you,
His fingers move like rats under her palms.
She glances at the clock. "See, Richard, the mailman will be coming soon. Mummy will get your sweater and we'll go out on the balcony and wait for the mailman. Maybe today the mailman will
bring Mummy a surprise. Maybe today he'll have a special letter for
Mummy and he'll ring the buzzer and. ..."
Flowers, a splotch of red... he crosses the lawn, his blue cap
iridescent as a bird's back.
Bluebird, bluebird
Fly through my window
"See, Richard, the mailman will be coming soon." She tries to
remember how many contests she has entered. The list has disappeared. She thinks that maybe Richard has it. She couldn't find it
in his room but that means nothing; there are so many places in the
apartment where he could have hidden it. She has entered so many
contests that the odds . . . and there was that story about the woman
who made a living off contests. If you took it seriously it was almost
like having a paying job.
Look I don't care how much it pays you aren't going to leave the
child with strangers you're his mother for God's sake. ...
Of course Richard has it! Like a packrat, hiding things, hoarding
. . . scraps stuffed like mouse nests into crevices. . . . She grasps him
by the shoulders. "You took Mummy's list, didn't you, Richard?
You know you took Mummy's list. Show Mummy where you hid it.
Please, Richard, show Mummy your hiding place." His bones feel
fragile. She drops her hands. "Please, Richard show Mummy where
you hid her list, like you did the time you hid Daddy's wallet." His
hair is thin, wispy. She can see his skull showing through.
"I can't watch you every minute."
She needs a filing cabinet. She should keep duplicates of everything. The tomato soup contest was offering a trip around the world
and Reader's Digest a hundred dollars a week for life. That's five
thousand two hundred dollars a year. Not much in this country but
if she goes someplace like Spain. . . .
She can't find his sweater. It isn't in his room or in the hall closet.
She remembers that he was in the bathroom alone. The toilet again.
The sweater is jammed into the bowl. She gets the wire and pulls it
out. It is tied in knots and dripping red dye.
She thinks that maybe today she will win the soup contest.
She glances at the clock. It is the colour of Richard's skin. The
clock was a wedding present. If she had a choice she would have got
a red one.
"Come on, Richard. We don't want to miss the mailman. Here we'll put Mummy's sweater on you. Isn't Mummy nice to let you
wear her sweater after what you did to your own? You take care of
this one, see, or Mummy will slap you even if Daddy doesn't think
that it will do any good." His arms are stiff as rods. The sleeves of
her sweater hang down over his fingertips. He looks like a robot
comically got up in cast-offs. She couldn't take him out on the street
looking like that but who will see him fifteen stories up?
Down on the street the cars stream into the city. The pavement
glitters like water. The roar of the cars rises in a crescendo. The
mailman's cap is blue, iridescent like a bird's back. She would call
down to him but the roar of the cars.. .. He is crossing the lawn,
moving toward the red flowers. . . .
She kneels before him, buttoning the sweater. It hangs on him
lopsided. She unfastens the buttons and starts again. The buttons
gleam like pearls under her fingertips. She's heard about an island
off the coast of Spain where she can get a villa for practically
nothing. She imagines a chalk-white villa half way up a terraced
hill, on all sides groves of orange and olive trees, ochre mixed with
deep rich shades of green, red flowers trailing over the chalk-white
walls and above a scarlet bird plunging like a meteor through the
deep blue sky.
"Mummy didn't get any good mail yesterday. Just a nasty old bill
and some pamphlets. ..."
He is working his hands free, pushing the sleeves up over his
wrists. He reaches across the table and takes a slice of bread from
the loaf. Bread pellets cling to the sleeve of her sweater.
"Richard, put that bread down. Richard! Stop that!" She grabs
the dishrag and mops up the table-top. Some fragments of bread fall
to the floor. She shakes the rag vigorously over the sink and turns
quickly toward him, smacking him sharply across the hands with
the cloth. "If I catch you doing that again, I'll slap you silly . .. I'll
slap some sense into you and I don't care what your father says. I'll
put you down in the playground and let the kids at you.. . I'll.. . .
Please Richard, let's go see which way Daddy's car went. . . let's go
wait for the mailman."
There were two pamphlets and a bill yesterday. One of the
pamphlets was advertising monogrammed luggage. The luggage was
on a clean, shining beach, under a palm tree. A man and a woman
were dancing toward it. The setting sun threw rosy flecks across the
ocean and reflected warm red shades in the woman's long dress. .. .
He is smelling his hands again, drawing them over his nostrils with the gentleness of a caress. She pulls his hands away from his
face. His body is motionless, detached. The cold hands struggle
impersonally in her grasp. She lets them go.
"Richard please. ... Be a good boy for Mummy." He is lingering
over the tip of his forefinger, savouring it. There is a drop of spittle
on the sleeve of her sweater.
"Richard! Stop that. It's disgusting. Disgusting." Her hand stings.
"Richard, Mummy's sorry. Mummy only wants you to learn,
Richard. Mummy has to teach you. She doesn't want to hurt her
little boy."
There is a red mark on his cheek. He doesn't seem to notice her.
He is smelling the palm of his hand as if nothing had happened.
Can't you teach him anything don't expect me to do it you're the
one who's with him all day he isn't an animal for God's sake I had
a dog that was better trained... .
"Please, Richard. Please come with Mummy. You know Mummy
can't leave you alone. Remember what happened last time and
Daddy was so angry. You don't want Daddy to get mad at Mummy
do you, Richard?"
She notices that his fingernails are dirty and that the cuticles are
growing up over his nails.
If she opens her eyes. . . .
"Come, Richard. Let's go look for the mailman. Atta boy,
Richard, Mummy will carry you."
She grasps him around the torso. He is stiff and resistant, his arms
and legs like sticks. She gathers his limbs up so that he fits into her
arms. She tries to place his arms around her neck but he lets them
fall. She feels she is carrying a stone.
She is standing on the balcony. Down on the street, the cars move
into the city. The pavement glitters like water. Beneath her a patch
of flowers is a red splotch in the emerald green of the lawn. She
catches the blue of the mailman's cap. He is emerging from their
apartment block, crossing the lawn, moving toward the flowers.
Yesterday there were two pamphlets and a bill. And the day before.
. . . The mailman is adjusting his sack, bending slightly under the
load. She wants to call down to him but the roar of the cars rises in
a crescendo that fills her ears... . She closes her eyes and sees a
scarlet bird plummeting like a meteor. THREE POEMS BY INGER CHRISTENSEN
Translated from the Danish by Nadia Christensen
Leaning tenderly against the night,
with the aid of a rusty railing
I discover my cheek and shoulder,
I discover my tenderness:
iron and flesh.
The rest is flags
silently fluttering, questioning outside and in,
in the night's spaces, in the mind's spaces:
placing my hand on the night's
quivering face,
I pick a bit of rust off my cheek. EPHEMERAE
The stone on the shore evaporates.
The sea dries up under the sun.
Desert skeletons of animals
are hidden in the eternal sand.
All things wander,
die in one another,
sail like thoughts
in the soul of space.
Caravans of living sand.
Is this a threat?
Where is my heart?
Imprisoned in the stone.
Hidden in a sea.
Beating deep
in a humpbacked camel
which lies moaning
in the sand and will die.
Like a flaming-gold flamingo
the colossal madness stands
on its one thin leg
floating in the dark floodtide.
Like a wild, tumultuous mass
the water gushes blindly past
polishes the leg half-way up
whistles for the flaming-gold,
weeps a little
and laughs.
Moon-blue neuroses
around a gold flamingo leg,
and the colossal madness clings low
to the floodtide that is us
and our haste.
Inger Christensen was born in 1935. She made her literary debut with a
volume of poetry in 1962; since then she has published two more books of
poems, two novels, and three radio dramas. Her book-length poem DET (1969)
placed her in the forefront of contemporary Danish women poets; this book is
scheduled to be published in English translation by Dutton & Co.
Nadia Christensen holds a Ph.D. in Comparative Literature from the University of Washington. Her writings — poetry, literary criticism, translations from
Danish and Spanish — ha ve been published in books and magazines in Europe,
South America, Canada find the U.S.A.
Translated from the Danish by Nadia Christensen
Find the concise
expression for sorrow:
a black slug with slime
and reflex-mechanism
in meaningless order,
just in time the palp is
out, just in time
pulled in again
and within the body
employed precisely,
like an expectant siren
whose descending tone
descends, descends
down through the entire
O skin,
my outermost
radar screen
We are just grass
at the edge of a ditch
along Time's well-worn way,
just grass
and perhaps a singing flower,
perhaps an occasional
Above us wanders
on cloven foot
the goddess of fate
with lurching udders —
musty, perhaps,
between her teats'
luxuriant pale-pink horns.
Above us wavers
the goddess' beard, while she devours
a bit of grass
and a singing flower,
she walks on the nettles'
broken necks.
We are just grass
at the edge of a ditch,
somewhat dusty grass
along a wayside
where the years roll past
in coaches
emblazoned with golden crowns.
One year it was the frogs' turn
to be in excess
— and maybe the mosquitoes'.
People talked about the soil's
increased aquosity
and included it
in the almanac.
Last year it was snails.
And the year before
Things will work out, people said;
they'll die from it by themselves.
And people talked about eradication
and long-lasting sickness
hydrophobia —
it will all come to an end.
Just look at the foxes, people said.
One year there were mice
the next year there were none.
That was proof.
14 This year it's children.
People talk about the soil's
lack of aquosity
and the blighted grain
people talk about responsibility
and lack of responsibility
people talk —
For things will surely work out
by themselves.
Just look at the foxes
just look at all the mice
it's included in the almanac.
Next year it will be flies.
Cecil Bodker was born in 1927. She made her literary debut with a collection
of poems in 1955; since then she has published three more volumes of poetry,
two novels, a collection of short stories, two radio dramas, and, most recently
(1972) a booklength "personal view" of some months she spent living in
Ethiopia. She has also published five children's books. A few of her poems and
stories have appeared in English translation in magazines and anthologies.
Translated from the Danish by Nadia Christensen
and Alexander Taylor
With no one can
you share
your innermost thoughts.
The most important thing
in life
you are
alone with.
It is a
lasting burden
it is a
gentle joy
that here
no one can reach you,
no one
be let in.
Thus ended the eventful summer,
The darkened beach is desolate.
Day and night go separate ways
Just as if they'd never met.
Out there a cold storm comes on,
The stars' radiance falls away.
The sea arches its back of waves
Shakes itself loose of memory.
Darkness now has drawn its cape
Beneath the rim of heaven's net.
And two who'd loved go separate ways
Just as if they'd never met.
Tove Ditlevsen was born in 1918. With the publication of her first book of
poems in 1939 she became Denmark's most widely-read poetess — a position she
undoubtedly still holds today. Since then she has published eight more volumes
of poetry, six novels, five collections of short stories, a collection of essays, a
book of memoirs and two children's books.
Alexander Taylor, co-translator of the Ditlevsen poems, has collaborated with
Nadia Christensen on various translations of prose and poetry by contemporary
Danish authors; most recently on a novel (Straus, by Anders Bodelsen) to be
published soon by Harper & Row. Mr. Taylor has also published his own poems
and translations and has co-edited an anthology of American writing published
in Denmark.
in the dark reflections
are old tintypes
the white of the eyes
illuminate the teeth
(smile as I come closer
my breasts point like knives
to your hands of warm milk)
come closer
the moon is raised on a stick
it is reflection
(and my thoughts are old men
taking off their shoes:
they wheeze past knowing)
the pool wears them like favourite dresses
night after night
the moon takes a bath
mirrors are made of moons
the zinc from its creases
the silvered back from its nightgown
the sliwers of light from lives stepped up
for one close look
(all your reflections gather
they caress after you've gone
they continue to appear long after
my own moon is down
have you closed your eyes? ON CROSSING THE BRIDGE
She didn't want the dove
with its broken beak
to come flying up without even
mud on its wings
or a pigeon in its place
It was more than a bird's load
that emptiness
that hole where the worm was
So she didn't look
as if she expected the sun
to remove her eyes
she shaded them
and kept them closed
over the expectancy
like a seal's face
When she heard wings
she dropped into the river
the bird found the glitter
over her fall
its beak breaking on the sharpness
It flew to the other bank
cooing softly
the sadness
of half a rainbow
Terese Svoboda is a retired graduate of U.B.C. on unemployment.
19 Diana Collier lives in Montreal and has had one story broadcast on C.B.C.'s
Canadian Short Stories, one story published in Fiddlehead, and one story in The
Journal of Canadian Fiction.
When Rudy Cardon drove too fast, as he was doing that October
night after the party celebrating his latest foray into the labyrinth of
success, his passengers clamped their fear under their tongues and
comforted themselves with the fatalistic thought that if this was to
be the end, then it would be, and there was no sense in resisting.
Which was true, for Cardon never took advice, and brooked no
contradiction from his friends. As he himself had a tendency to
insinuate: if he didn't know better than they, then why was it that
he was on the Board of Directors of Ryberg & Co. at the young age
of 39, while they waited for slow succession by age or death; that
his stocks rose while theirs fell; that his new wife was young and
exquisite, while their wives, cosmetic-laden, were calling out their
last reserves against middle age.
So as the car hurtled along the Westmount avenues with their
twinkle of streetlights and quiet frosty lawns, Harry and Mort
passed the mickey, shouted incoherent jokes about people they knew
and enemies in general, and tortured their exhaustion into a new
hilarity. It was a night of which they would say — they were rehearsing it already — that was quite a night!
The party had endured until 2 :00, gradually becoming a success
as the guests succumbed to a deluge of alcohol. Then, faces flaccid
and wet from the exertion of having a good time, they stumbled out
into the night, dark green footprints on the lawn marking where
they had turned or erred from the sidewalk. The small hours were
left to Cardon and a few close acquaintances, to reminisce, to get
drunker, to ponder their own conclusions on the event, the Company, and the world at large.
20 Let it be said here, in case the situation is misconstrued, that
Cardon was no mystery to them, no dynamo of monstrous passions:
he had no secret tragedy to spur him on. Indeed, his only secret —
that he'd changed his name from Cardonsky to Cardon and never
looked back — he routinely aired after his sixth drink. If he became
temperamental with success, then they allowed it and paid their
obeisance to success itself. Cardon's luck was confounding.
Their host stood by his picture window, pouring himself another
drink, watching them go, waving occassionally as some guest reeled
houseward, then away again. After glancing at his watch with a
quick habitual gesture, Rudy Cardon drew the curtains and
In the kitchen, Harry and Mort were arguing, their voices raised
in disagreement about the topic of argument, Mort slandering the
efficiency of the Germans, Harry raging against crime in the streets.
Each had followed his own train of thought until they were entrenched, glaring at one another, in two separate conversations, each
refusing to give an inch.
Cardon returned to the livingroom, pacing restlessly. The next
party — he was considering it already — would be better. From the
kitchen, he heard Harry's voice —
"And if he had a gun, then what?"
"I'd get it from him," Mort was raving. "He'd be scared to kill
me. I'd just keep coming — "
"For Christ's sake, will you talk sense? Now remember, see,
there's nobody around..."
"There's always somebody around — "
"If you keep changing my example," Harry's voice rose, "how
can I make a point? Try to imagine this situation — "
The topic made Cardon angry. He had no taste for imagining
situations unless they were ones he was likely to encounter, and then
he would devise a plan, his plan would take into account all necessary factors, and he would push on to victory. Only failures liked
to amuse themselves with irrelevant possibilities; he shied away from
such talk in the fear that idle speculation on what he might do
could one day turn to brooding on what he might have done. It was
a point of pride to keep his course clear, charted, and inevitable.
As Cardon ceased to listen, their voices seemed to die away. When
they finally stopped, the silence broke upon him with a shock. He
moved immediately, began gathering ashtrays.
The silence followed him into the kitchen, where Harry and Mort
21 sat, bent over their glasses, the argument dead and forgotten. Mat's
wife was looking through the phone book for a cab. The slap of
pages turning and the clink of Mort's glass as he misjudged the
distance to the table jarred against the stillness. They looked up at
Cardon vacantly. Harry's wife came in from the bedroom with her
coat on, stood behind Cardon, leaning against the wall. He moved
aside to avoid her eyes on the back of his neck.
From the bedroom they heard a gentle rush of sobbing, Cardon's
wife, who seemed to cry often, quite without reason, apologizing
profusely for it afterwards, to the embarrassment of those who were
content to pretend they hadn't heard. The five of them stood, a
tableaux, all eyes averted, listening to the listless weeping that
seemed to pervade the house and seep into their very bones. Suddenly all five began to talk at once, even Cardon himself, talking
feverishly as he poured fresh drinks. The hubbub continued apace,
then, exhausted, it subsided. There was a merciful silence.
Mort's wife returned to the telephone. Cardon told her to forget
the taxi for a while. She smiled wanly and began to dial. Cardon
pointed to their half-consumed drinks and to his watch, saying it
was still early. Patientiy Mort's wife shook her head, saying it wasn't
early at all. For a moment Cardon stared at the small obstinate
woman, hating her.
"What's she calling a taxi for?" he bellowed.
Mort shrank back. "I'm too drunk — she gets scared — "
Cardon swore he wouldn't stand for any taxis, even if he had to
drive them himself.
So it happened, that all six of them piled in the Buick, Cardon's
wife included, red-eyed and apologetic on schedule. The onslaught
of cold air jarred their senses, penetrated their light overcoats right
through to the flesh, stirring it. When the white needle of the speedometer climbed past 50 and the twisting avenues spun behind them,
the passengers jostled against one another, and a breathless laughter
filled the car.
Through the rearview window, Cardon saw the pale face of
Mort's wife, serene, impenetrable. He swore under his breath and
stepped down on the gas, sending the car hurtling forward. He
glanced again, saw fear tugging at her lips, and smiled, satisfied.
The car shot through a red light.
Mort leaned up against his ear. "Left. You should have turned
22 Cardon shrugged, unwilling to admit he had missed the turn.
"I'm going the long way," he said, then added, "It's still early."
Cardon drove on without being questioned, his large body
hunched over the wheel as if he wished to envelop it. He enjoyed
driving, for the fast movement of the car annulled the passage of
time, keeping all other thoughts from his mind except the sensation
of proceeding forward — the opposite of nights when he couldn't
sleep yet his thoughts raced, and the slow minutes fled on untouched. Then he would give in to an unreasoned anxiety, and go
to the livingroom and pace until the rhythm of his walking warmed
his veins. Yet the bottle of sleeping pills on his dresser remained
unopened — a point of honour.
Soon they were well out of Westmount, proceeding east along
Pine. In the back, Harry and Mort had given in to the mickey and
were roaring old college songs. Beside him, Cardon heard his wife's
voice waver trying to find the tune, smelt her perfume musky and
secretive in the chill air. His spirits rose. He glanced in the mirror at
Mort's wife, and caught a smile crossing her face, dusky, tired, yet a
smile on that white stubborn face, and despite himself he began to
sing too, his voice loud and erratic. He drove on, turning and winding as the impulse moved him. When he heard Harry's voice call
out from the back "Where are we?", he shrugged.
The street was dark, a row of seedy houses, then three-storey
industrial buildings. All agreed it was an unpleasant neighbourhood.
Harry suggested turning back. There was loud disagreement. After
all, Mort said, it was an experience for the women.
They drove down a side street, and stared at the houses. On the
steps of one, an old man sprawled, asleep. Cardon slowed down so
they could get a proper look.
"Drunk," Mort whispered.
When the car stopped at the intersection, the passengers clamored
to proceed ahead. Arbitrarily, Cardon turned left.
Along one side of the street, a row of tall office buildings formed
a wall; on the other side, a parking lot, and more industrial buildings. Beyond the parking lot, the backsides of the houses on the far
street were exposed, naked shells of board and ramshackle porch,
flagrantly poor. Farther down the street, a middle-aged woman was
walking a small dog, letting it pull her along. Coming towards them,
yet still beyond her, a slight figure was walking fast, nearly running.
Then for a moment, the two figures merged.
Suddenly all in the car craned forward — the two figures were
23 struggling, while the oblivious dog, his claws scraping the sidewalk,
strained to continue on down the street. The woman seemed to
stagger, one hand gripping the leash, the other had jerking her purse
vigorously. For a moment she was stretched out between the dog
and the kid. Then with a wrench, he had the purse loose. Her leash
dropped; the dog and the boy ran in opposite directions. On seeing the car, the kid darted across the parking lot.
The car was in an uproar. From the back, Cardon heard Mort
yelling, felt Harry's hand pushing his shoulder. He wrenched the car
wheel, drove up over the sidewalk and across the parking lot, cutting
the kid off. They saw his face, terrified, blink once into the headlights as he turned, skidding in the gravel, running back towards the
road. The car spun as Cardon turned after him.
Cardon's wife pulled on his arm, her face frightened. The car
careened. He pushed her arm away, yelling did she want them to
crash? She began to cry. He swore at her, bellowing that it was his
duty to protect helpless women. The men in the back echoed him
excitedly, their voices suddenly authoritative, businesslike. They were
not ones to permit —
"There are three of us," Mort soothed her.
The kid had reached the road, running back along the far sidewalk, kept to it by the unbroken chain of office buildings. The car
shot back onto the pavement, passing the woman, who hadn't
moved, watching them, her face expressionless. The car accelerated,
and they caught up with the kid, the tires ramming against the curb
then away again. For a few seconds they continued abreast, the kid
running witless beside them, unable to stop or reverse his direction.
Harry rolled down the window and leaned out, swearing, calling the
kid names; the kid wouldn't look at him. With a sweep of his arm,
the kid flung the purse away. It bounced off the car roof and burst
open on the pavement. The car stayed with him.
About 50 yards ahead, there was an intersection, and more houses
beyond. Realizing that if the kid reached the corner he would lose
them, Cardon drove ahead of him, then up onto the sidewalk,
blocking it. The car rocked as the three men struggled out. By the
force of his own momentum, the kid plunged out onto the road,
past the car and into their midst. For the briefest second, nobody
moved, stunned by the immediacy of the confrontation.
The kid dashed by Cardon. After he had passed, Cardon bellowed
as if awoken.
The chase continued, the three men shouting directions at one
24 anther, fanning out. The kid ran back along the sidewalk, along the
beam from the car headlights, his hair flying wild in the white light.
Then suddenly he vanished into an opening between the buildings.
The men gathered at the entrance.
At the end of the narrow alleyway, a third building joined the
two that were side by side, linking them, a small light fixture high
on the building wall illuminating the immediate area, just enough
to show it was a dead end. Between the end and the street, the alley
was in darkness, several cars parked along the side. Behind one of
them — which, they didn't know — the kid crouched, cornered.
"We've got him," Mort whispered, staring into the alley.
Nobody spoke. Harry searched through his coat for his cigarettes,
swearing softly as he realized they were back in the car.
"He can't get out," Mort craned into the darkness, then drew
back, a small nervous laugh shaking him. "We've definitely got him."
"Not used to running like that," Harry muttered, coughing.
Across the street, the woman was trotting after her dog. They
waved at her, grinning. She stared at them as she passed, then
hurried on, clutching her purse to her body.
The three men exchanged awkward glances. Harry waved back
at the car, and pointed to the alley. Then all three sighed at once.
Mort leaned against the wall, his face bilious. "Drank too much,"
he mumbled. "Going to be sick."
Harry turned uneasily to Cardon. "Well, she got the purse back."
Cardon glowered into the alley. "He still took it."
Mort pulled his coat tight around him and shivered. "I got to go
Cardon stared at them. "You want to let him get away with this?
Make a fool of the law?"
Harry shrugged.
Cardon seemed to lose his breath shouting about right and wrong,
and which was which. They argued a while in front of the alley,
until it was decided that Cardon should guard the entrance, while
the others went to get the police. Off they ran in opposite directions,
towards a main intersection or a house from which to phone, their
footsteps a receding clatter in the night air. Cardon glanced over his
shoulder and saw Harry skidding at the corner as he turned, his face
florid from the alcohol and the chase. Angrily, Cardon waved him
on. In the other direction, Mort was already out of sight. Farther
down the block, one of the women in the car, his wife, perhaps,
pulled the open door closed. The car was tilted, the headlights
25 casting two columns then a swath of light down the empty street.
After the closing of the car door, there was silence.
Cardon paced by the alley's open end, his eyes trying to pierce the
darkness. The light from his car headlights was blinding. He made
several abrupt motions at the car with his hands, trying to signal
them to shut the lights off. The lights stayed on.
He swore, then cupped a hand to his mouth as a belch came.
From the drinking earlier, then the excitement, the chase — a
stream of hiccoughs bubbled up from his gullet. He couldn't stop
them. Perhaps back in the car, they had noticed and were laughing.
Irritated, Cardon stepped out of the light and into the alley, the
relief from the glare soothing his eyes. A hiccough rolled up to his
throat, and he released it with a soft little pop.
Behind him, the open street was a pure stream of fight, geometrical lines of sidewalk and walls behind. Above, hanging in the narrow slat of sky between the buildings, was a full-faced moon.
Strange, Cardon thought briefly, to find himself here.
He squinted ahead into the alley, then shrugged. There was no
need to do anything until the police came. To escape, the kid would
have to return back down the alley past him —■ and the kid was
pretty small, probably sixteen, at most. Cardon hunched his shoulders and flexed his fingers the way he used to when warming up for
football. His body became alive with the memory of the impact
when he tackled.
From the corner of his eye he caught a movement ahead in the
alley, felt the movement more than saw it, for when he looked
directly, he saw only the cars. His thoughts switched to the early
evening, and by habit he began to plan. For the next party, he
would rent a hall; it would be a full dress affair . . .
Cardon belched again, and his mood changed. He saw himself,
all six feet, standing at the entrance to the alley, pointing. When the
police pulled him out, a mere kid, they grinned as they passed him.
The vision shook him.
Impatiently he glanced at his watch. Words passed through his
mind — he didn't have all night —
Looking into the alley, Cardon thought he saw a glint of light
from behind one of the cars, perhaps from a buckle or clothing the
kid wore. Without thinking, he began moving towards the place he
had seen the Ught, far ahead in the darkness. From the street, his
car horn blared as the women became anxious, calling him back. He
hesitated. The light flashed again like a signal. Cardon moved a few
26 steps towards it, and the car horn ceased. The night enveloped
him, and he relaxed.
As Cardon walked forward, the alley seemed to close behind him,
cutting him off, as if the others in the car who waited and the two
who were running for help were as distant as the moon. For a
moment, he felt himself a stranger to his own life waiting back at
the open end of the alley for him to return to it. A profound thought
eddied in his mind. He tried to grasp it but it eluded him.
An exhilaration overcame him, a timelessness, as if by some primordial memory he were linked to hunters of the past, stealing across
a plain by moonlight, stalking a dusky prey. The sensation broke
upon him with such vividness that for a moment he was sure he
could recall — from a dream, perhaps — this very alley, this very
moon pendant in a slat of sky — as if the picture had been engraved
on his mind from birth, as if all the events of his life had been incidental to this inevitable meeting. A twinge of fear slid ratiike down
his body.
Cardon moved on past the first car, glancing up at the moon.
Strange, his thoughts rambled, tracing back to the red light. There
was the mistake — he should have turned left —
He fixed his eyes to the point where the light had given the kid
away, letting it draw him. His hands reached out to the second car,
touching the cold metal. The touch was electrifying. His hand pulled
back of its own accord. He felt a sudden revulsion at the sensitivity
of his own flesh, a shock at being alive.
Ahead of him, the kid stepped into full view, his face pale, his
entire body shaking. Cardon stared, bewildered. Against his will, he
felt embarrassed.
"Look here, you'll have to come with me," Cardon raised his
voice, "because — " he couldn't remember exactly —
As he spoke, Cardon's glance fell down to the kid's hand and he
saw the knife, quivering in the kid's hand as if it were alive.
The light came from the knife, Cardon thought. In his confusion,
the recognition pleased him.
"Don't try anything," he heard himself carry on.
The kid's mouth was moving, he was speaking, but Cardon heard
nothing for the thunder, reverberating, drumming throughout his
entire body, propelling him forward.
"Don't — " Cardon whispered, as they ran at one another in the
pale Ught.
Twice the knife found him, shuddering. He screamed, and toppled
27 to the pavement. The kid bent over him crying, then kicked him,
once, in the chest. ..
Afterwards, there was the sound of the kid running, then a long
frantic blare from the car horn. Cardon lay face up on the pavement. Footsteps and a rush of voices broke the silence — the others
returning. Surely they were approaching, yet as Cardon lay there,
the sounds seemed to ebb.
Abruptly it occurred to him: he couldn't have turned left —■ the
car had been going too fast. Why? The idea fell away, too distant,
past remembering.
His eyes opened and he saw Harry's face thrust next to his. He
tried to reach up, but his hands wouldn't move. Harry was shouting
in his face. Cardon closed his eyes. The unnamed thought drew
Suddenly he kicked desperately — he was dying — he had been
killed —
Above, the moon had passed beyond the opening between the
buildings, leaving the sky black and remote. Cardon sank back onto
the pavement.
Strange, he murmured to the darkness that was coming as if to an
appointed time. So unexpected —•
The Darkness smothered his surprise, and he died.
28 Lee K. Abbott, Jr. is twenty-five, married, has lived most of his life in the
Southwest and received his M.A. in English this past May. He is teaching temporarily in the New Mexico State University English Department for the coming
school year.
LEE   K.   ABBOTT,   JR.
One rainy evening in March, Bernie Fieldman made an obscene
phone call to a woman he followed home from the F train.
He got nowhere.
The next night, however, he tried again.
"Yeah?" She had the voice of a TV tray, metalhc with gold filigree around the edges.
"Is this the Tipton residence?" he said evenly. He was neither
nervous nor diffident. Instead, he seemed uncommonly bold and
downright cavalier. Everything was A-OK.
"What if it is the Tipton's?" She breathed heavily, almost snorting at the mouthpiece.
"And is this Miss Rae Nell Tipton?"
"So what," she snapped. "Who wants to know anyway?"
Bernie wasn't prepared for this. He felt a prickly numbness spread
on him like a kind of overskin, like Saran-wrap. Being unsure yet
not really scared, he liked this, too. The answer came without
"This is Bernie!"
"Yeah? Bernie who?"
He had rust in his throat. He hadn't thought about a last name,
yet here she was demanding one. But for some strange reason, the
same reason he suspected that motivated this call, Bernie Uked her
display of bravado. But a last name?
"Tipton!" He couldn't believe he said that. It just popped out.
"Bernie Tipton!"
"Tipton, huh?" She sneered the question, still wary.
29 "Yes," he said. "Bernie Tipton, from Detroit!" He was now
yelling into the phone, his voice shrill from excitement. He didn't
know anyone in Detroit. Or Chicago. Or Toledo, for that matter.
Nowhere! He had only opened his mouth and the words flipped out,
quite on their own.
"From Detroit, you say? I don't know —?"
"Of course, you do," he broke in. "Your cousin, Bernie from
"Cousin?" Her voice whizzed up.
"Yes, cousin Bernie from Detroit. A Uttle snotty-nosed kid with
freckles and gray eyes!"
"Freckles and eyes?"
"Right! Used to Uve with Uncle Noah over the store. Hated
baths and dogs. Loved the roller rink!" He was running out of
breath, but he didn't care. He was numb, happily numb. "Ran
away a lot, but a nice kid. A sweet kid. One you could love as your
"I could?"
"You betcha!" He was screaming into the phone. He held the
receiver so tightly that the black seemed to rub off in his hand. His
palms perspired. The hair on the back of his hands stood on end.
By now, the muscles in his forearms quivered. His shoulders twitched
epileptically. His neck was conduit for flooding pulses of cold
blood. Still, something compelled him to keep on. "Your long-lost
cousin from Detroit, Bernie!"
"Bernie?" she said tentatively. "Is that you, Bernie?"
The next thing Bernie knew he was jumping up and down in the
phone booth, telling his cousin Rae Nell that he was just in town for
the convention, that he couldn't stay too long, but that he had
wanted to try and look her up anyway.
"Convention?" She grew more famiUal, more Uke the meat loaf
he suspected she made so well.
"Yes, the retail hardware convention. I'm in charge of the loading demonstrations."
"Oh." She didn't sound too impressed.
"Yes, seeing how many wheelbarrows or shovels you can pack in
a truck in an hour."
"A cousin with shovels?"
"Sure," he said excitedly. The words stiU flowed easily. He had
no control over what he was saying. "But it could be lawnmowers
or hoes or hammers."
30 "That's very nice."
"Not really, just something to pass the time." He laughed contentedly.
"Why, Bernie dear, I'm surprised at you," she said. "A Tipton
passing time!"
"Well, it's more like marking time, actually. Waiting for a break."
"Break? What's this talk about a break? In my day, a Tipton
waited for nothing."
"Things have changed," he said boldly. He had her where he
wanted her. Things couldn't have been going more smoothly. All
she had to do now was invite him over for a little chat, to get
acquainted, so to speak.
"Why don't you drop over for a little chat, Bernie? It's been ages
since I've heard from anybody in Detroit."
You mean she wasn't just dying to see him?
"I'm just dying to see you again, Bernie."
"I don't know, Rae Nell," he said, gigghng inside at himself.
"I'm due back at the pavilion in an hour."
"The pavilion! What's this talk about a pavilion? A long-lost
cousin that I haven't seen for maybe thirty years tells me he's due
back at the pavilion in an hour! What am I supposed to think:
that his cousin, Rae Nell, plays second fiddle to a lawnmower?"
"It's not that, cousin Rae Nell. I just don't want to impose."
"What impose? You're family, Bernie. Flesh of my flesh. My
blood is yours, Bernie. You're a Tipton. You have a special burden
to shoulder."
How could he turn her down? Every molecule in his body told
him to accept. He was numb. And he felt he was in no position not
to like it. Everything forced a decision: the streetlights, the car that
had passed a moment ago, the sounds of a neighborhood come in
out of the dark. Still. . .
"I don't know, Rae Nell."
"You don't know! Bernie, you're a Tipton."
"You're telling me?" His voice was full of lead.
"Tell me, Bernie. Can a lawnmower love you any more than me?
Can you call a wheelbarrow family? What about that, Bernie? Can
you hug a hoe?"
He was too numb to answer.
"Maybe in Detroit they share dinner with shovels, Bernie, but not
here. Here, when a cousin with gray eyes and roller rinks comes to
town, his family takes him in. They feed him meat loaf. They give
3i him lots of coffee. They give him a warm bed to sleep in. He eats
breakfast with a cousin, not a loading demonstration!"
He was too overcome to say anything. A bubble formed in his
throat and ran the course of his esophagus to his belly, popping
harmlessly in his gut.
"Just think, Bernie. Think of all the people who don't have any
cousins. Think of all the people that don't have someone with
She was right, absolutely right.
"You're a Tipton, Bernie. It's your duty."
What about his privilege?
"It's your privilege, Bernie! You should be proud."
"I am," he whispered.
"Then don't disappoint an old lady. Leave your nasty old shovels
for just one very short evening. Humor your lonely cousin who
never had a roller rink in her whole life!"
"I will," he said, too deadened to say otherwise.
"Good," she said sharply. "Now, here are the directions."
All the while she was giving him the directions, he had the feeling that he knew how to get there anyway. A tingling sensation
filled his cheeks and buttocks. He felt weightless and powerless.
Something unspecific, yet all too real, was working on him, and he
coveted no urge to resist it. In fact, he was sure that doing so was
foolish, if not impossible. He was numb. It seemed that his body had
fallen asleep, and that its waking up would come slowly, if ever, and
then only through no fault of his own.
"Did you get all that, Bernie dear?"
"Yes," he said, quite separate from himself.
"And don't worry yourself over that tiresome old convention,
Bernie. You have a mission. You're a Tipton."
"Yes, bye-bye."
Bernard Fieldman stepped out of the phone booth. The thoughts
whizzing through his brain seemed to belong to someone else. His
skin felt prickly and hot. He noticed things almost by accident. He
saw by second-hand. Again, he picked up the phone and dialed.
"Fieldman residence." The voice was very perfunctory.
"Bernard Fieldman, where are you? I've been holding dinner for
over two hours! Do you know how late it is?"
"I got hung up."
"I think you owe me an explanation. I think you owe the kids an
32 explanation, too. They have been at me all evening about where
their daddy is."
"I told you," he said, "I got delayed."
"And just where is their daddy, I'd like to know? When dinner
time rolls around, where is the man I slaved all day for, cooking his
favorite macaroni and cheese casserole?"
"Ruthie — " It came out as a moan.
"What am I supposed to think, Bernie? What is Ruth Fieldman
supposed to do when for the first time her busy husband doesn't get
off the 6:30 train? Or the 6:45? Or — "
"Ruth, I — "
"I ask you: is Ruth Fieldman supposed to call the police, Bernie?
Is she supposed to put out an all-points bulletin or something?"
"No, Ruth. You don't have to do that."
"What is she supposed to tell her children, her starving babies?
Her friends, Bernie?"
"Is Ruthie supposed to forget she was ever married? Is that it,
Bernie? Is she just supposed to chuck those eleven happy years out
the window?"
"I have to work late, that's all."
"That's all? Well, you could have told someone. You could have
at least told your wife who was standing in the rain that you
wouldn't be home this evening!"
"I was busy."
"You could have had the decency to keep Ruth Fieldman from
worrying herself half to death over where her husband might be."
"I'm sorry, Ruth. I didn't realize how late it was."
"You didn't realize!" Her voice rocketed upward. "You didn't
realize that Bernie Fieldman's two children were crying out their
eyes because Daddy wasn't home? You didn't realize that Bernie
Fieldman's house could have burned to the ground because of a
fuse or something? You didn't realize that Ruth Fieldman, wife of
Bernard Fieldman, is now a big bundle of nerves because her husband is out gallivanting around the city until all hours!"
"I'm not gallivanting. I'm working."
"What's working, Bernie, when you family is unprotected?"
"I'm sorry, Ruth."
"Sorry! What good is feeling sorry, Bernie? Is feeling sorry going
to cook your meals and mend your clothes? Is feeling sorry going to
take care of you in sickness and in health? Is it, Bernie, is it?"
33 He felt far away, as though he were looking at himself through
the wrong end of a telescope. "Hey, Bernie," he wanted to call to
himself. "It's me. Up here. Yeah, Bernie Fieldman!"
"Answer me, Bernard! Can feeling sorry help you for richer and
for poorer? Can it vacuum the rug or polish the furniture, Bernie?
Can it?"
The voice was still taking his attention: "Chin up, Bern."
"This is Ruth Fieldman, your wife, Bernie. Remember? The one
who changes the sheets every Wednesday and Sunday! The one who
washes your shirts. The one you promised tiU death do us part!"
"I know, but—"
"But? But, he says. But, Bernard Fieldman says to his one and
only wife of eleven years. But, he says to the mother of his children.
"Calm down, Ruthie. Don't get so upset."
"Don't get upset, he says. Calm down, he says to the simple
woman that loves his very soul. He says this to the woman that
waits for him in his living room while he carouses about tinsel
"You're not crying, are you?"
"No, I'm not crying. I'm sobbing. Sobbing for Bernie's children,
abandoned to a life without a father. I'm screaming my guts out for
the man who shares my bed."
"Would it help if I said I was sorry?"
"Don't apologize, Bernie. It only makes it worse. It only makes it
harder on the both of us."
"Makes what harder?"
"You heard me. If this is the way you want it, then so be it. If
you want to throw a mother and her two sons out in the cold, then
go ahead. No one is stopping you. I only ask that it be quick."
"Hold on one second, Ruth! No one said anything about tossing
anybody out in the cold. I just said that I have to work late, that's
Except for a few sniffles, her end of the line was quiet.
"Did you hear me, Ruth?"
"If you want us, you know where you can find us."
"Your supper will be in the oven."
"Ruth Fieldman!"
"Goodbye and good luck, Bernie," she said soberly and hung up.
Bernard stepped out of the phone booth, shaking himself Uke a
34 dog. The call had no lasting impact on him. Instead, he felt only an
unexplained numbness rather than guilt or remorse, a numbness
that led him by the hand to the doorstep of Miss Rae Nell Tipton.
Standing before her door, Bernard knew that everything was taking its proper course. Water was running downhill, as usual. Apples
jiggled from trees fell down, not up. Birds had to sing. Sun had to
shine. The laws of physics and chemistry could not be explointed
or mutated.
He was in his proper groove, a shiny ball bearing, after having
been given a Uttle nudge by some unseen force, now rolling along,
validating every theory of momentum known to man. He was happy.
But more than that, he was irrevocably numb.
"Is that you, Bernie dear?" She had her face stuck in the opening
made for the view-window, and Bernie could see she was a real
"Yes, it is," Bernie said, indicating that, indeed, he was he and no
She had the Tipton nose, bent to the left at the tip. And the
Tipton eyes, Teflon-colored — as though everything she had seen
could be scrubbed away with a little soap and water. Bernie liked
that. He was in no condition not to.
"Oh, Bernie," she hollered, throwing open the door and giving
him a scrushing hug. "Let me look at you." She held him at arms'
length, running her eyes from the tops of his scuffed brown loafers
to the very tip of his crew cut hair. "You're a Tipton, my boy!"
"Yes, ma'am," he said sheepishly.
"You've got the Tipton nose, all right," she said, tweeking him,
"a little bent to the left."
"Yes, ma'am." Bernard shuffled his feet out of embarrassment.
"And the eyes," she said joyously, her own eyes stretched wide.
"You have the Tipton eyes!"
"Those, too. Yes."
"Well, well," she hemmed. "Aren't you the one?"
"Yes, ma'am. Aren't I?" He was so numb he couldn't feel his
tongue. He had no brain waves, it seemed. No brain and less will.
He felt like an invention on display. He was being drawn to and
from things. This time by Rae Nell, into the living room.
"Sit down, Bernie, and tell me about yourself."
What was there to tell? Well, after Uncle Noah died, Bernie had
to run the store. He hated that, so he enlisted in the army, served
two years as a personnel clerk, was discharged and returned to
35 Detroit. He sacked groceries for six months, deciding what he
wanted to be, then got into hardware. Been there ever since. Eleven
years, now. Ahhh, it's wonderful.
"Good," Rae Nell said, remarking that she was glad Bernie had
finally gotten into something he liked. He had always been such a
troublesome child. Never really enjoying anything too much, nothing
in its extreme.
Oh, my goodness, yes. A fly in the soup, they used to call him.
Did everybody think that?
Oh, yes. Didn't he remember Grandpa Tipton?
"Who could forget him!" Grandpa Tipton was such an old
codger, things dripping out of his mouth all the time. Especially
corn on the cob. Uggghh.
"Oh, Bernard! You do remember everything."
He did, didn't he? Nothing escaped his notice. Remember the
time old Spot fell in the cesspool?
Or the time Aunt Jesse caught Keith necking in the sitting room?
"Oh, dear me, yes," she said in a twitter.
And what about the time Uttle Stanley peed on the picture
"Bernie, watch your tongue. A Tipton does not know the meaning of the word 'peed'."
Bernie was really enjoying himself. He had to think very hard to
remember the last time he had felt this content. Maybe it was the
time he and Rae Nell's nephew, Ossie, won the team skate-athon
and then drank root beer at the Circle Drive-In with the Carver
Twins. Then again, maybe it wasn't. Maybe that was the way with
these things. Still, he reminded himself of a big Guernsey cow:
content and patient. Yet, at the same time, he was a very tired cow.
What was keeping her from asking him to stay the night?
"Bernie, dear," she said coquettishiy. "Why don't you stay the
night? It would be so much easier."
"Oh, I really couldn't, cousin Rae Nell. I have this room...."
"Room, Bernie?" she said, as if the word were cancerous.
"Yes, ma'am. I got it close to the pavilion so I wouldn't have to
walk so far."
"But a room, Bernie. I can't believe you said that to your cousin
Rae Nell. I can't believe a Tipton would ever say something like
36 Was he slipping? Had he been discovered? Was the Fieldman in
him showing through? It couldn't be. He still felt numb.
"Tiptons don't have too many rooms. No rooms at all."
"They don't?"
"Certainly not! They have homes." Her eyes sparkled.
"They have roller rinks and ..."
"... They run away a lot!"
"They take over the store, hate it, and join the army!"
"They become personnel clerks, get discharged, and return to
"And, after sacking groceries for six months, they get into hardware."
"You're absolutely right, cousin Rae Nell."
"And one more thing, Bernie ..."
"They like it!"
And they are numb.
"Which is why a room is out, Bernie."
"It is?"
"Of course it is." Her gesture took in the whole house. "A Tipton
requires a place, Bernie. Somewhere to root, to grow and thrive."
"He does?"
Someplace where he can sit and relax. A place where he can
touch things that are his and his alone."
Bernie was liking this. He had to. He knew he had no choice.
"You're a Tipton, Bernie. Remember that."
"I'll try to," he said meekly.
"There, there. Now, I'll just run upstairs and fix up your old
As he watched Rae Nell leave the room, Bernie felt rooted, firmly
planted. It was not the feeling wanted that most amazed him.
Neither was it the love and understanding Rae Nell gave him that
mattered. He had expected as much. Simply, it was the feeling that
here was a job well done. Nothing was misplaced; angles were right;
moments were left whole or untouched altogether; he fit — nothing
could be shaved away or reground. He belonged, and no one ques-
37 tioned it. Least of all, Bernie. He couldn't even think of doubting it.
"Ruthie?" he said into the telephone. "I'm afraid I have some
bad news for you."
"Who is this, please?" Her tone was brusque.
"This is Bernard, Ruthie."
"Bernard who?"
"You know very well who. This is Bernard Fieldman, your husband."
"Husband? As in husband and wife?"
"Cut it out, Ruth! This isn't very funny."
"Who said anything funny? I only asked a simple question."
"C'mon, Ruth. This is Bernard."
"I'm sorry, but you must have the wrong number, sir." There was
a cold pause. "Although I did know a Bernard, once. A snotty-nosed
little fellow. Used to run away a lot."
"He always hated dogs and baths."
"What's going on, Ruth?"
"Lived over the store with his Uncle Noah."
"Ruth, stop this."
"Liked roller rinks, though."
"Oh, Ruth."
"Had freckles and eyes, if I remember correctly."
"I wonder what ever happened to him?"
"I'm what happened to him. I'm Bernard."
"I met him just after he had gotten out of the army. He had been
a personnel clerk, you know."
"No, I didn't know that."
"Well, it's true. Then he started sacking groceries. He finally got
into hardware."
"He's been there ever since, I suppose. He really liked it."
"Cut it out, Ruth! Do you hear me? This is Bernard, Ruth. This
is the man who shares your bed, the man whose shorts you launder,
the father of your children. Do you understand me? This is your
"Don't raise your voice to me, mister. I will not stand for any of
your insults. I'm not one of those helpless screaming young things
you are probably used to. I can take care of myseU."
"Ruth, this is Bernard — "
33 "I don't care who it is! I will not put up with this kind of thing.
I just will not have it. Do you hear?"
"Oh, Ruth."
"I suppose you're used to pushing around young women, aren't
"No, I'm not. I'm not used to anything."
"Well, you won't get away with it this time, buster. Maybe roller
rinks are just hunky-dory in your neck of the woods, but around
here that just isn't done."
"We don't take kindly to strangers petting in the living room."
"I wasn't petting."
"Or people peeing on other people's picture windows."
"Nobody's peeing."
"You're sick, mister," she yelled, her voice digging into his ear.
"You belong in a room."
"How many times do I have to tell you, Ruth? This is Bernard!"
"I don't care who you are."
"Don't cry, Ruth."
"Why can't you people leave decent citizens alone? Why do you
have to call up in the middle of the night and upset good, clean,
law-abiding people in their worst hour?" She blew her nose. "There
are laws against this kind of thing, you know? We don't have to
stand for this. Isn't it enough that I have just lost my husband for
good?" She grew calmer. "Isn't it enough that his two children will
have to go through Ufe fatherless?"
"I don't know what you're talking about."
"You know perfectly well what I'm talking about. I'm talking
about a life without a mate, children without their natural father.
I'm talking about Detroit, mister!"
"Yes, Detroit and loading demonstrations and pavilions."
"I don't understand."
"Of course you do. Your type always does."
"My type?"
"Don't give me that, buddy. You know who you are!"
For the most part this was all passing in one ear and out the
other. Bernie had balsa wood for brains. He couldn't care less.
"Let that be a lesson to you, buster. We know the score around
here. We're not a bunch of dummies, you know. We know a thing
or two!"
39 He had nothing to say.
"And one more thing, buddy?"
"We like it!"
The slamming of the receiver rang in Bernie's ear, yet again their
conversation had passed by him at chin level. He couldn't force himself to care about what Ruth told him. He was without time and
direction, only an abiding numbness that steered him through the
eye of whatever needle happened to be in the vicinity. And his
particular vicinity was now coming downstairs.
"Who was that, Bernie?"
"Oh, nobody."
"Fine, now come upstairs and let me tuck you in, just like the old
Sleep came effortlessly to Bernard. So, too, with waking, which
Bernard did early and noiselessly, slipping neatly out of the house
before dawn.
But the numbness had not dissipated altogether. Bernie still felt as
though he was walking inside a bell jar, one with a slow leak.
Ruth met him at the door of their house, but before she had a
chance to scold him, Bernie fixed everything. In fact, by the time
he was through telling her the whole story, even Ruth would have
let Rae Nell tuck her in. She would have liked that.
Later, while Bernard toured the personals in the evening paper,
the telephone rang.
"Bernie, it's for you."
"Who is it?"
There was only silence; then, "It's your cousin Keith from
40 Ann Barry is from St. Louis, Missouri and presently living in New York where
she has been on the staff of The New Yorker magazine for eight years. She has
done free-lance writing for the Chicago Tribune-New York News Syndicate as
well as for the Village Voice.
Beth kept to herself. She was a palid child with owlish brown
eyes set close together in her head. A shock of white ran through her
brown hair like the spoor of a lightning bolt that had struck her at
birth. Her schoolmates left her alone, wishing that, instead of haunting them, she would vanish altogether.
After school Beth took a circuitous route home. At the end she cut
through the backyard of the next-door neighbors, where she felt safe
at last. It was the Warrens' place. She first stopped at the dogs' pen
at the far end of the yard. Dr. Warren raised spaniels for hunting
pheasants and there was usually a new litter or one on the way.
They would be overjoyed at Beth's approach, yelping and licking
her hands in gratitude for the least attention. Their pleasure seemed
so unleashed, in fact, that she measured her affection, fearful that
they would go mad if given too much. Nonetheless, she delighted
in seeing her effect upon the dogs, for it was recognition that she
otherwise missed. Beside the pen was a chicken coop. She would not
enter it now for, years before, she'd rushed into the downy, mud-
spattered enclosure where the birds roosted and had been assaulted
by the squawking, flapping flock. She had come to deal with the
birds as she did with people, keeping a distance.
After greeting the dogs, she would ring the back-door bell for Dr.
Warren. He was a general practitioner, yet he was not a respected
figure in the neighborhood, a sedate section at an enviable remove
from the city, with serene old houses and well-groomed lawns. He
kept irregular hours, his person was as ill-kept as his property, and
he was not ingratiating. The dogs and chickens were said to create
a terrible stench and noise and, now and then, a chicken would
escape the fence to root in a resident's flower bed.
41 To Beth, however, he was a constant friend. If he was at home in
the afternoon, she would be welcomed into the cool, shadowy
kitchen for a "brown cow," and to the root-beer and ice cream he
ceremoniously added a dollop of whipped cream just for her. The
kitchen, unlike her mother's, was in constant disarray. Dishes would
be piled in the sink, fading newspapers and dippings would be
scattered about, tools would have been resurrected for jobs intended
but never begun. There were plants running wild, spilling over window sills, neglected yet thriving. Parakeets and finches flew about
freely, without homing cages, and sometimes Ughted on Beth's hand
to peck brashly at the mustache of root-beer foam bubbling over the
rim of her glass onto the sticky plastic tablecloth. The smeU of the
Doctor's cigars permeated the house, an odor that aged the surroundings and made time stand still. In summertime, the same
aroma drifted from the house where the Doctor sat on the side
porch, reading and smoking reUgiously under the glare of a naked
light bulb. Beth would catch it, out after lightning bugs in the semi-
darkness of the side yard that adjoined the houses. It would draw
her to pay another visit, as if the Doctor were inhaling her in. They
would sit together on the porch, the swing and rocker creaking Uke
knuckles cracking. The jar of Ughtning bugs blinked and glowed,
the scent of tobacco mingled with honeysuckle in the air. When it
grew pitch dark and Beth more tired than she would admit, she
went home.
The Doctor never had much to say but, when he did speak, Beth
listened attentively. He would talk about the progress of the garden
or the behaviour of the animals or a plan for a hunting trip, all of
it to do with his private world that she was allowed to share. He
never bothered her with questions about school or studies or friends.
Beth didn't talk much either and her silence was respected. Once,
after he'd told her of his desire to take an African safari, she'd let
him know of her dream to go away and become an artist. Otherwise
they spoke of day-to-day secrets. She would be sent off with ripe
tomatoes or with a precious bit of the birds' down, the makings for
a powderpuff. She would carry the treats back home, across the
brambled line of demarcation between the houses and, gazing up at
the curtain of open sky, she would feel herself a special and secret
girl, alone.
Though Dr. Warren was a solitary man, he did not live by himself. His younger brother, a hunchback, appeared each evening at
precisely five-twenty, winding his way up the snaking front walk at
42 his turtle's pace. If a child or dog or neighbor was about, he took
no notice. Once he'd entered the house, he evaporated and would
not be seen again until five-twenty the following evening. Since he
was handicapped and annoyed no one and worked somewhere
faithfully, he was absorbed and dismissed in the community. Beth
was afraid of him and avoided his path. She imagined that he was
as ill-tempered as he was gnarled. Once she'd been surprised when
he acknowledged her with a flicker of his twisted fingers, a signal of
some sort, but she couldn't discern its meaning, whether a salutation
or a good-riddance.
The brothers' mother Uved in the house also. She passed her days
in a rumpled single bed in the tiny reconverted bedroom off the
kitchen, a birdhke creature with flyaway sflver yhair. Beth wondered
if it was her age and feebleness that made her bedridden, or just the
opposite. Despite her frail state, she possessed a wisdom and a regal
manner and Beth felt tempted to curtsy when she entered the room.
Mrs. Warren always had a gift for her — a sachet, an embroidered
handerkerchief — which she would produce from the bottomless
pocket of her nightgown, as if they'd been kept there for years.
Often, as if she was reminding herself as well as Beth, she would teU
her that she was a lovely child and that she must treasure her special
beauty. She spoke in a mannish whisper, as if it was a strain, sounding to Beth like a frog-prince. Tiring quickly of a visit, she would ask
Beth when she would come again, a form of dismissal that Beth
acknowledged and regarded as an understanding between them.
Her visits to the Warrens were irregular in the summer, when
school was out. One especially hot August day she was reading in the
hammock in the shade of the backyard. Half dozing, she was aroused
by the sound of the Doctor's dogs whimpering in a peculiar, worried
way. She noticed that the tomato plants were weighted with overripe vegetables, unattended and angry in color, and that the grass
was demanding a cutting. The pungent scent of honeysuckle hung
heavily in the air, the bees and insects droned, and no one was
Beth knocked hesitantly at the Warrens' back door; she avoided
ringing doorbells, for they sounded alarming. At first no one
answered. Her bare feet stung from the head of the red concrete
steps and she hopped from one foot to the other, ready to run. Then
the door opened tentatively and she saw the shadow of Mr. Warren's stooped figure against the sun-struck screen door. What was he
43 doing at home in the afternoon, she wondered. It disturbed the
order of things and substantiated her fear.
"What is it, Beth dear?"
She was astounded at the high pitch of his voice and the tenderness and familiarity of his address. Had he taken his mother's voice
in exchange for his own?
"Is Dr. Warren home?" she asked. "The dogs sound hungry."
"No, he's not here now. But they've been fed," he said softly. He
unlatched the screen door and opened it a crack, as if too much sunlight would hurt. From her lower position on the steps Beth met his
glance; his watery brown eyes, shaded by rugged brows, reminded
her of the sad, pleading eyes of the spaniels. She became bolder.
"Can I say hello to Mrs. Warren?"
"Mrs. Warren isn't here any longer," he announced. His face
closed then like Venetian blinds, shutting her out. The moaning
dogs, the piercing sun in the drowsy afternoon, and the strange voice
of Mr. Warren proclaiming something inexplicable made Beth dizzy.
"Mrs. Warren died the day before yesterday," he continued, as if
he was thinking aloud to convince himself of the fact. "There was
no funeral. She has been cremated."
Beth heard Mr. Warren calling after her, his words hurling at her
as she ran across the dry, overgrown grass to her own yard and the
coolness and safety of her room.
Mrs. Warren dead. She was gone, forever. "Forever," with death,
meant never again. She stared through the window at the sunny
world outside, absent of a person who had just been there. She'd
been cremated, vanishing so suddenly. Beth, though incredulous, felt
the need to pay homage to her end. She gathered all the mementos
that she'd secreted in various drawers, discovering the set of hand-
painted porcelain buttons that she'd forgotten, and arranged them
in her Florentine box. She placed it, like a coffin, in the farthest
corner of her closet.
After a number of weeks, Beth observed that life had resumed at
the Warrens. The garden was pruned, the grass trimmed, and the
animals tended to. She visited then, in her usual fashion, school having resumed. The Doctor greeted her in the same way. The only
alteration was that the door of Mrs. Warren's room was shut. It
shocked her to think that her life, one so long, had made so Uttle
By Fall, Mr. Warren, the hunchback, was no longer appearing at
five-twenty at the house. It was as if a wrinkle had been ironed out
44 of the fabric of life and enquiries were made, for he'd never been
known to take a vacation. It was Mrs. Grossman, who kept track of
her neighbors via the postman, who discovered that his mail had
been accumulating for over a week, because he, in turn, had died.
There had been no funeral — who was there to mourn? He, too,
had been cremated. The Doctor had informed his place of business,
a real estate office as it was found out, and following the probings
of Mrs. Grossman, the Doctor took in his leftover mail. Beth fell
back upon her most vivid memory of him, announcing his mother's
death to her in a manner that belied her view of him, and wondered
if he had not been misunderstood and if she had missed something.
She became engrossed in her studies and, in time, no longer visited
the Doctor. When she caught the smell of his cigar, it seemed
funereal. The aroma recalled them — Mrs. Warren, whom she no
longer really missed; Mr. Warren and the loneliness of his life; and
the Doctor, with whom she now felt estranged. They were both
present and absent and, at the same time, Beth was growing up.
Well once she's got him what
about it? He speaks he
writes he thinks
the same.
Is a hand worse
for hands that enclose it?
A mind for moving
out and beyond itself?
I think of a pebble
thrown into water:
polished by water it changes
the water's flow.
The stone, though it loses
its rough edge,
remains stone.
Water will always give
and take like water.
When they touch
he's closer
to the sun,
a silhouette, hand
locked to hand locked
in silence.
She conjures white
thoughts, he
Her nails throw sparks
when she rakes
the sun from his back,
leaving there black spears
like sheared paper.
Derk Wynand, Assistant Professor of Creative Writing at the University of
Victoria, has recently appeared in The Dalhousie Review and Quarry. His book
of poems, Locus, Fiddlehead Poetry Books, came out in 1971.
Everywhere he gazed as if reading the air
the silent eyes transgressed    He turned to bodies
he could not know    Recognition blurred in desert translucence
Shafts of sun    springs of light    came to his head    like horns
His dark domed face    heavy like rock
And he wished to speak out to all
So he came down from Sinai sternness    eyes following him
till swirling in his sight    he struck at them
at the sunblazed air    with stone carvings
It seemed to him only his eyes    and the largest third one
followed him into that final gleam    Angels of sight
hovering    over the prismatic dunes
In another time when bodies fell
the sun dried the blood into rust
They fell into earth, earth became rock
Here now we are close together
Jerusalem's hills at their heights
circle themselves like a crown for the sun
Here our voices move into the other's shadow
And the real shapes of our bodies
like transparent angels
step away beside us
to confer how they will endlessly walk
over the hills and will gather the flowers of silence
of two thousand years in moist psalms
so other crystal figures may twine out of marble
out of the monoliths of these temples
out of the rock that is Jerusalem's flesh
Among Seymour Mayne's recent collections are Mouth (1970), Face (1971)
and For Stems of Light (1973). A new book of poems, Names, will appear in
1974. He presently teaches at the University of Ottawa.
Happy Birthday
I hope you're
happy now
they've even named a
constellation after you.
They could see it
at night
through their
telescopes —
they say you can
predict the future.
Happy Nothingness
when I was small
I believed in
I used to be afraid
of bones —
they were calm
and invisible
where blood was
easily proven.
In photographs
my skin sheltered you —
even then
you had the look of a
If I were you
I would welcome the
chance — there are
worse things yet
than survival.
5° Sometimes I see
light and
forget your
The casual way
you erase the past:
Knock Knock
Who's there?
Is a skull necessary on a ..
Merry Merry
Meaningless Mess
when I was small
I remember being
untouched by you.
I made
seed cakes
out of poisonous grass —
I was
skinny then
and hardly aware of flesh.
Happy Someday
I'd choose other holes
for my eyes if I
didn't know you
would be suspicious.
I think we may become
good friends
one day
in the meantime
you may weU
outlive me.
How could I live
south of anywhere —
the wind has come to
know me,
'part-blood' the sea
calls me.
Do I keep moving north
beyond object or
direction — is distance
measured by
confusion?    I hate
to leave a place
unaltered — something
must stay
to complete the vision.
You love the sun:
for you the world
is never a problem.
When your bones are
covered with dust
mine wUl be moss.
I could not dream
under the cramped earth.
52 I would die here
Uke a stone stopped
I will wait for fungus to
close me.
You love the heat:
we will not die
I resist thinking about you
somewhere alone in the
It is the thirst I
worry about —
the drowning without
Susan Musgrave has published two books of poems: Songs of the Sea-Witch
and Entrance of the Celebrant. A new book, Grave-Dirt and Selected Strawberries will be published by Macmillan this fall and a book of poems for children, Gullband Thought Measles Was a Happy Ending will be published next
year by J. J. Douglas. She presently lives in the Queen Charlotte Islands.
(From Paroles, © Editions Gallimard)
Translated from the French by Esther Y. Smith
and K. Ayyappa Paniker
I put my cap in the cage
and went out with the bird on my head
we're not saluting
asked the captain
we're not saluting
replied the bird
excuse me I thought we were saluting
said the captain
You're excused anyone can make a mistake
said the bird.
They're at table
but they're not eating
they're not feeling quite right
and right behind their heads
standing upright    are their plates.
The French poet, Jacques Prevert, was born in 1900 at Neuilly-sur-Seine. He
is best known for his collections Paroles, Spectacle and La Pluie et le beau temps.
Esther Y. Smith is a candidate for the Ph.D. in Comparative Literature at
Indiana University. Her major interests are in contemporary literature and
African Studies.
The co-translator, K. Ayyappa Paniker, teaches at the Institute of English in
Trivandrum, India. His poems, an opera and poetry translations into Malayalam
have been published in Kerala.
55 Eugene K. Garber is a former student and teacher at the Iowa Writers' Workshop. Since 1968 he has been teaching creative writing and modern literature at
Western Washington State College, Bellingham. His stories have appeared in a
number of periodicals in the United States.
From his vantage on the high ridge the hunter followed the progress of the old woman. Through his gunsight he could see her face
clearly — pinched by the cold and deeply lined by exhaustion older
than this day's journey. The concave mouth worked hungrily for air.
Around the face was a dark wreathing of frayed scarf; below, a
black shapeless coat. Boots, black too, shuffled stiffly in the fine first
snow. Only the arms made a wide motion, oaring, as though the old
woman found some brief purchase in the brittle wind.
At first the hunter was angry, because the old woman was walking straight down the middle of the draw where he had expected
the deer to come. Then, biding her slow passage, he became curious.
She must, he figured, have come from one of the old Sluice's End
cabins. She would have walked across the abrupt low hummocks
that they used to think were Indian burial grounds. She must have
left her cabin at daybreak to reach the head of the draw by noon,
at her pace. Already the hunter could feel the afternoon wind racing
down from the mountain, bristling the air, arming it with cat's
teeth. The second snow was on its way. It would drive the deer
down. If the old woman could hold her pace she would clear the
draw before dark. He might get a deer yet.
In the meantime the hunter watched and wondered. Why would
the old woman undertake such a journey when everybody knew
winter was howling in the mountains like a cougar? He studied her
face. It was drawn, but it was not the face of starvation. The squinting eyes looked determined all right, but they hadn't calculated the
distance right and measured it against those old hobbled legs. The
hunter shook his head. Something had affected the old woman's
56 The hunter was right about the old woman's miscalculation. She
began to yaw. Presently she stepped aside and lowered herself down
by the trunk of a pine. The hunter took aim. It was a strange sight.
The way the snow had lodged in the bark made the tree trunk look
like a big snake with sharply etched scales. The old woman's mouth
worked like a guppy's. A prickling commenced on the hunter's neck
and ears. It came to him, though he knew it was crazy, that he
ought to go ahead and flick off the safety and pull the trigger, because the old woman would never get up again anyway. But he was
wrong about that. She did rise and struggle on, though the boots
moved slower in the snow and the rowing motion of the arms grew
weaker. The hunter followed cautiously along the top of the ridge.
And when the old woman had to stop again and lean against a
serpent tree, the hunter crouched and drew up a shrewd smile on his
face. "You ain't going to get at me like that, old woman." But the
gun grew warm in his hands. The black mouth of the old woman
seemed to leech to the gunsight just at the cross hairs. It took an
effort for the hunter to lower the gun.
The third stop was terrible. The old woman found a rare dark
patch on the floor of the draw. She leaned against the sheltering
stone that had made it. But a fine snow was beginning to fall, charming the ragged collar of the old woman's coat into a silver fox. That's
where he ought to fire, the hunter thought, straight into the heart of
the old vixen, painlessly. But the black coat obscured the cross hairs.
Suddenly the old woman stiffened convulsively. Her neck strained
up, her mouth widened. Then she went slack. Her head fell heavily
to one side and she tumbled onto the ground. The hunter had not
fired. In fact, there hadn't been a sound other than the rising wind
keening in the neck of the draw. But the buck had heard something,
or smelled something. The hunter saw him stop on the rise across
the draw, test the wind, then turn and gallop away — a fine young
beast with four points. At that moment his coat seemed woven of
the white snow and the darkening sky.
The hunter knew, before he reached the old woman, that she
would be dead. Still, he thrust his hand down between the two dried
old dugs. There was not a tremor of heartbeat. She was hardly
warm. If he were to open her up as though for dressing, the entrails
would hardly steam. But he did find something, a small leather
pouch on a stout string. He slipped the string over the old woman's
head and weighed the pouch in his hand. It was heavy.
57 Now the hunter had missed his buck. The old woman owed him
damages. He opened the pouch and emptied the contents onto the
ground. There were a few coins, a negligible sum. The main contents of the pouch were a tiny single-shot pistol and a bag of cartridges. There was a round in the chamber of the pistol. Startled,
the hunter carefully removed it. He looked at the old woman's face.
Her eyes stared out across the snow. He pulled the lids down, but
they slid open again. "Who were you going to get, old woman?
Who are you?" He searched the pockets of her coat and dress, but
there was nothing to tell who she was. Just an old woman from
Sluice's End was all he could tell the sheriff. He stuffed the pouch in
his game pocket and picked up his rifle. But something held his
attention, an element of urgency in the stiffening body, as though
the legs wanted to push up and the hands claw the jagged air. "Old
woman," said the hunter, "who was the hated one that made you
misjudge this walk so bad?" The sound of his voice pleased him,
the way it struck the big stone and plunged bravely into the wind.
"Old woman, if you had written down a name and put it in the
pouch, I could've taken care of him for you." He shouldered his
rifle and scanned the draw. Snow was veiling the trees and obliterating the crest of the ridge. "It must've been a powerful hatred, old
The hunter took no notice of the arrangements the sheriff made.
Maybe they took out a pony trap and dragged the old woman back
to town. Maybe relatives at Sluice's End claimed her or maybe she
had to be buried at public expense. The hunter went about his
business of getting three good bucks for the winter. In the spring he
would pick off grouse. In the summer were the salmon runs. In the
fall the uplands were thick with chukar. That was his life.
In his wifeless cabin he set the pouch on the mantel. Presently he
noticed a frail breath of foul odor. The pistol was greased with
animal fat. He smiled. That was just the way an ignorant old
woman would do. He had to scrub it was gasoline. He had to saddle-
soap the pouch inside and out. And since he had spent so much time
in restoration, he decided to wear the pouch and pistol around his
neck. It might come in handy in case a logger or an Indian went
completely wild at the tavern.
But the pouch didn't make the hunter feel safe. Instead, it began
to act like a witless lodestone. It drew him through the town, heavy
53 on his neck, bending him down Uke a pointer. One day it took him
all the way out to Juke's mill. "What am I supposed to find?" asked
the hunter impatiently. "I can give you the rest of the winter, but
not more." The pouch tugged at him, but there was nothing to find.
The creek was iced over. The millwheel was covered with leafless
vines. The old house was a skeleton drifted with snow. Old Man
Jukes was twenty years dead. Well then, thought the hunter, it was
only a pouch of muddled memories. The old woman was addled the
day she died, if she was coming to town to shoot Jukes. So the
hunter sat before his fire and chewed venison jerky and carved himself a spare rifle stock.
Then the pouch took up a nocturnal life. After supper it would
catch the hunter with a sudden heat as though someone had placed
a fevered hand on his heart. It would lead him down to the tavern
and keep him watching there until the beer and the fire made him
too sleepy to keep his eyes open. The tavern keeper laughed. "Why
don't you get a wife then, Ames, if you can't stand the long evenings
"I'm looking for somebody, but not a wife."
"A connection of that old woman's that died in the snow last
"She didn't have no connections. They inquired out to Sluice's
End and they put it in the paper, but nobody came. She was buried
a pauper because there wasn't nothing in her cabin worth even the
price of a pine box, and who would buy a broke down cabin in
Sluice's End?"
"Oh she had connections all right," said the hunter knowingly,
but the tavern keeper's picture of the old woman's desolation chilled
his bones. "Everybody's got connections somewhere."
"Is that right? Who's your connections, Ames? Suppose I was to
find you laid out in the snow."
"You wouldn't have to bury me a pauper. My cabin would bring
a price."
"Wouldn't, Ames, unless you had connections. See, there would
be lawyers and filings and court and clerk charges until the proceeds
wouldn't cover a apple crate and a Indian grave-digger."
The hunter thought about that as he trudged home. It put him in
such a black mood that he swore at his cabin and kicked his bed as
though they had failed him in some solemn duty.
In the days that followed, the pouch yawed like the old woman
59 its owner, dragging the hunter all over town. Out by the depot
Indians stared at him. Dogs barked at him in the better parts. Boys
peppered him with snowballs. Once it seemed the dry goods store
had an attraction, but he refused to set foot in there. At night it was
always the tavern. He searched the faces, but they were always the
same — heavy loggers, dying old phlegm-spitters, clerks at the pool
table, a handful of Indians in the corner. The hunter grew morose
and tetchy. One night he slugged a logger and was sent home by the
tavern keeper. Another night the tavern keeper said, "There's a new
woman named Barstow at the dry goods. If I was you I would go
court her. Or you can sit around here and go rancid."
The hunter stomped out of the tavern. But the next afternoon he
went to the dry goods store and spoke to the Barstow woman. She
was under forty, and not too roughed over by the winters.
"Miss Barstow," he said.
"Missus." She smiled.
"Widow Barstow, I want leave to court you in the spring."
She shook her head. "I don't want a man if his sap dries up in the
"It ain't that."
"What is it then?"
"I made a promise for the winter."
"Then go back to her." Her face flamed up.
"I can't. It's a dead woman."
"That's even worse. I can't fight the dead."
"And you won't wait until spring?"
"I might have to, and beyond, but not willingly, not while I have
eyes to cast about."
"Then I'll come tonight. Where do you live?"
"Right above your head."
Suddenly the hunter felt a chill breath on his face. The pouch
steadied, stone cold. He said, "You don't know who I am."
"You're Ames, the hunter. But you haven't asked me what I want
for a present."
"What is it?"
"Sherry wine."
"Sherry wine," he repeated, but his mind was not on the words
because the snow forest had entered the room. The light dimmed.
The color drained from the Barstow woman's face and she receded
60 greatly in distance. The hunter found himself looking through his
gunsight. The cross hairs roamed in the dark shadow the woman
made on the snow and then steadied on her throat. "Eight o'clock,"
she said.
"Eight o'clock."
When the hunter got back to his cabin his eye was clear, but he
was in the grip of fear. He paced the room, remembering how in the
dry goods store the pouch had gone cold and how the sight had
steadied on the Barstow woman's throat. He shook his fist. "You're
crazy as hell, old woman. I'm through with you. I bury my oath."
He stamped on the floor as though he were tamping a murderer's
grave. "It's all off!" He seized the pouch string, but he could not
pull it from his neck. He wrestled it as though it were a serpent,
until he fell to the floor panting. When he dropped his hands, the
string grew loose again. He drew his knife from its sheath, but he
could not cut the string. A palsy shook the knife from his hand. He
lay in his bed and looked up at the dark cage of rafters. "Well then,
old woman, you've got me, but I won't take your revenge. Do what
you can." He half expected the strings to wind and strangle him or
the pouch to freeze his heart, but they did not.
Later, he walked to the liquor store and then to the widow's room.
She poured the wine into a crystal decanter. From the decanter she
filled two small tuUp goblets. She sat across a small table from him
and proposed a toast. "To a successful courtship." She smiled. They
sipped. "I'm afraid it can't be," he said.
"Because the old woman has hold of me."
"Tell me about the old woman," she said sitting straight in a dark
velvet dress that almost hid the shadow of her full breasts.
"You won't believe it."
"I'll beUeve it."
So the hunter told her everything, not omitting the way in which
the cross hairs had steadied on her throat three hours ago. He
watched her face carefully and when he had finished his story he
said, "What was between you and the old woman?"
"Me? I never knew either of you."
"You knew us."
She stepped around the table and unbuttoned the collar of his
61 shirt. She looked at the pouch and touched it and then she returned
to her chair. "So I am the one."
The hunter nodded solemnly. "But I won't kfll you. I told the old
woman so."
The widow, to his surprise, took no interest in his promise. She
said, "It took you first to old Juke's mill?" He nodded. "What did
you see there?"
"Wreckage and snow and a frozen creek."
"What did you see in the creek?"
"I saw a ripe old dog-salmon laboring under the ice. I saw my
She leaned across the table until their faces were very close.
"What do you see in my eyes?" Her breath made a warm sweetness
in his nostrils. "What do you see?" she said. What he saw was a
broad-faced boy, flushed, his eyes narrow with mirth. "A boy," he
said. But it was not a boy, it was himself — as he might appear in a
silver ball on a fancy stand in a rich man's yard. "You must have
been a rich man's wife," said the hunter, looking again at the crystal
decanter and the tulip goblets.
"Maybe I was." Then she said, "We can break the old woman's
"I doubt it."
"Yes we can. I want you to come back tomorrow at this time. I
want you to do exactly what I say. Do you promise?"
"I promise."
All that night and the following day the hunter suffered greatly.
The coldness of the pouch was almost unbearable. He was afraid
his heart would freeze. He knew what the old woman was saying —•
that if only he would fire the pistol into the Barstow woman's throat
all would be well. But the Barstow woman had said she could break
the old woman's hold. The hunter fervently hoped so, because what
would he do if she couldn't?
He went to her room that night. She smiled as she let him in.
"Don't look so black." She led him to the same small table. And
now he knew she had been a rich man's wife. She wore a long white
gown lacey and open above the breast. It was made of many thin
layers and was tied at the waist with a silk sash. It was embroidered
with shiny white flowers like edelweiss in the snow. When she sat
across from him, the gown opened Uke a morning flower and revealed the knee and calf of one leg. A fierce battle began in the
62 hunter between the heat of his desire and the chiU of the old
woman's pouch. The Barstow woman poured the tulip goblets full
of sherry wine. She held hers out and touched it to his with a tiny
ring. When they had sipped, she said, "Is she tormenting you?"
"You remember your promise?"
"Yes. But you better hurry and break her hold."
The Barstow woman nodded. She got up and walked to her bed.
The hunter didn't remember having seen the bed the night before,
and yet how could he have forgotten it? It had high posts, a white
canopy, and curtains. The hunter was muddled. The wine and the
Barstow woman's dazzling fineries made him dizzy. Who was she?
Where was he? And what was it she was saying? "Take out the
"Yes, take out the pistol and load it."
As he opened his collar and loosened the mouth of the pouch, she
said, "Can you remember a deer that you killed well, without pain?"
"Can you aim like that again?"
He snapped the cartridge chamber shut and lifted the pistol. She
looked upward. Her mouth opened and her throat worked gently.
He wondered if she were singing. But all he could hear was the
wind stiffening. The scudding snow began to cover her coat and the
rock behind. The hunter feared he could not get a clear shot. Melting flakes caused the cross hairs to waver. But at length the sight
steadied. He fired. A dark blossom leaped to her throat, probably
crimson, but he could not be sure in that driving snow.
The hunter removed the pouch and dropped it at his side along
with the pistol. Lightness and relief drowsed him so thoroughly that
he could not resist sleep, dangerous as he knew it was in the snow.
While he slept he heard the old woman. At first he thought it was
only her death rattle, but it was more like a crooning, like the last
sweet bubbling in the deer's throat under the knife. He expected
silence to come, but it did not. Instead, the crooning went on and
on. The hunter awoke. The wind had died. The snow fell so evenly
that it was like seeds broadcast by a careful sower. He saw where the
lovesick crooning came from — the old woman's bower of snow. It
lay before him in the near distance at the end of a short path. It was
a deadly beautiful thing with curtains of frost, swags of snow, and
pinnacles of ice. But the coldest of all was the lovesick crooning
which froze the hunter's groin. Presently he began to weep, which
63 unmanned him. So he wiped the tears savagely on his sleeve and
unsheathed his knife. He knew what the old woman had done —
tricked him into killing the Barstow widow, then taken her place.
The hunter went forward, knife uplifted. He would plunge it immediately, he would not give her time to freeze him with her eyes. He
threw aside the white curtain. But he did not strike. It was not the
old woman under his knife but the widow. She was naked except
for a green velvet choker that held a rose in the center of her throat,
a rose that throbbed ever so slightly as she sang. The hunter's passion blazed — and mounted more and more as he saw in the liquid
of her eyes his clothes drop one by one from his body, saw his own
face broad and boyish. But even as there stirred in him motions he
had not remembered for years, something else awed him more. It
was the widow's body. It was firm and even muscular, just as he had
imagined. The breasts were large and the nipples ruddy, for they had
been often kissed and caressed. But something had removed the
marks of the cold country. Something had stripped away all the
winters, as though a hand had peeled one by one the layers of her
white gown. That was the only magic — not the boyish quickening
of his blood, not the fatal shot that was only a rose, not even the
strange sisterhood of the old woman — but only this, the winterless
body and bower of the widow which now he entered.
64 I t ^»> :    '  /Gf^Kf!^.    Yitzok Leib Peretz was one of the founders of modern Yiddish literature in
the nineteenth century. A new collection of his short prose will be published by
Schocken Books, New York, in spring 1974.
Joachim Neugroschel's translation of articles from Martin Buber's magazine
Der Jude will be published next year by The University of Alabama Press.
Translated from Yiddish by Joachim Neugroschel
Three canaries came into the house, and the cat did all three of
them in, one by one. . . .
He was no ordinary cat, but a truly, truly pious soul, and it was
not for nothing that he wore his traditional white jacket, while the
heavens were mirrored exultantly in his eyes. . . .
He was a pious cat, always performing the ritual ablutions,
cleansing himself ten times a day! . . . And as for meals, he would
always eat quietly, off to the side, in a corner somewhere.
All day long he would eat some sort of dairy food, and it was only
at night that he turned to meat, kosher mouse-meat.
And he would never pounce upon his food boorishly. He never
grabbed it up and gobbled it down, as gluttons do; his ways were
dainty and playful. . . . Let the mouse live a moment more, a
moment more . . . Let it dance about a bit, tremble a bit, confess its
sins and say its prayers —■ a pious cat does not grab. . . .
When they brought home the first songbird, she promptly aroused
his pity, he felt a tugging at his heartstrings.
"What a lovely creature," he sighed, "what a tiny creature, and
to think that such a delightful bird has no afterlife to look forward
No afterlife whatsoever! The cat was certain.
First of all, she washed herself in a newfangled way, plunging her
entire body into the little bowl of water.
Secondly, she had been put in a cage, which meant she was a
wild beast, albeit a sweet, young, fine little canary. . . . She would
rather throw bombs than observe Jewish law. And then that singing! That lewd singing! The way she whistled
and peered right up at the heavens without a shred of respect! And
the way she kept struggling to get out of the cage, into the sinful
world, to free air, the open window. . ..
Did anyone ever stick a cat into a cage? Did a pious cat ever
whistle like that, so openly, wantonly, like that profligate Zimri?*
"What a pity!" The cat's pious heart wept within its pious body.
She is a living creature after all, a precious soul, a spark of the
Tears came into the cat's eyes.
And the awful thing about it was that the body is so beautiful,
worldly pleasure so voluptuous, Evil Desire so strong.. . .
How can such a sweet tiny little bird resist Evil Desire which is
so huge and terrible?
And the longer she lives, the more she sins — the greater will be
her punishment.. ..
And a holy fervor flared up in the cat, the fervor of Phinehas.
And up he leapt upon the table, to the songbird's cage, and —
Feathers flew around the room.
They thrashed the cat. He accepted the thrashing, piously groaning, lamentably caterwauling, breast-beating: "I have sinned, O
Lord. ..." Never would he sin again.
The wise cat understood why he had been punished. . . . He
would earn no more beatings. . . .
They had punished him, the cat realized, because he had filled
the room with feathers; because there were bloodstains on the white
embroidered tablecloth. . ..
Such a sentence must be carried out neatly, silently, piously. Not
a feather must fly, not a drop of blood must fall. . . .
And — when they brought home the second songbird, he strangled
her silently and carefully, and then swallowed her, feathers and
The cat was whipped. . . .
Now he finally realized that it wasn't the feathers, and it wasn't
the bloodstains on the tablecloth.. ..
*Numbers 25:6-18 relates that during a plague, Zimri brought a Midianite
woman into his family, an action regarded as leading to idolatry. The two of
them were killed by Phinehas, who thereby stayed the plague, but only after
24,000 had died.
74 The point was: Thou shalt not kill! You have to be loving, forgiving. . . . The worst capital punishments won't improve the sinful
You have to persuade others to reform. You have to sermonize,
move their hearts. A penitent canary can reach heights that even the
most pious cat shall never attain.
And the cat could feel her heart bursting with joy. So much for
the old, bad, harsh times! So much for bloodshed! Compassion,
compassion, and once again compassion.. ..
And compassionately he approached the third canary!
"Don't be afraid," he murmured in the mellowest voice that ever
emerged from a feline throat, "you are sinful, but I won't do you
any harm because I feel compassion for you!"
"I won't even open your cage, I won't even touch you!
"You're silent? — Excellent! You're better off holding your tongue
than singing impudent ditties!
"You're squirming? — All the better. Squirm, squirm, my child,
but don't squirm before me, squirm before the Creator, the Lord
"If you could only stay like that — pure, silent, and squirming.
. .. I'll help you to squirm. My pious soul shall breathe stillness
upon you, sweetness and piety. ... Its breath shall inspire your body
with faith, your little bones with fear of God, your little heart with
contrition and repentance."
And now the cat finally felt how good it was to be forgiving, what
a joy to breathe piety and righteousness into that little creature. . ..
And the most pious of hearts swelled in the most pious white cat.
But the canary couldn't breathe in that cat-polluted air — it
A bicycle leaning against a tomb
a pastel sky of fine Austrian hue
the ancient Emperor awakens soon
and shakes his head,
in these graves only good Catholics lied.
Now no stenographer may leave a clue
about her mini-skirted suicide
next to her bed.
Waltz on Vienna, laced cathedral spires,
aquamarine Danube, fiacres, waltz.
Perhaps Professor Freud's own shade expires
along the way
and this vulgar century won't pester
your old-age pensioners and lacquered schmaltz
and royal panthers made of alabaster
for one more day.
In our own way
in our own time
we praise the Lord everywhere
te Deum laudamus
including this cocktail lounge
mirrors    cathedral darkness
silver and ice
green liquids swirling poUtely.
Behold a tall girl
stained glass and marble
fabric of pale flesh
structure of fine bones
confident stride and
unconscious glory
in gloria Patris
preparing her altar.
Sanctus sanctus sanctus Dominus
holy holy holy Lord
Tibi omnes Angeli    yes
including this glass girl
marble bones    eyes of ice
proclaim unceasingly    inacessabili
coeU et terra    heaven and earth
pleni sunt majestatis gloriae tuae.
In fact how can one help praising the Lord
if she can't help it    tall girl
liquid air
structure of fine bones
fabric of pale flesh
blonde fibres
urban priestess
preparing her altar.
77 Marble girl    set out your tray and gimlets
praise God with your confident stride
a chorus of Apostles can do no more
nor a fellowship of the Prophets
nor yet a noble host of Martyrs:
Tu Rex gloriae, Christe,
judex crederis esse venturus
and perhaps you will be a lenient judge.
Help your servants    even the marble girl
we therefore pray    tuis famuUs subveni
what else can we do now that we are created
and sit in cocktail lounges in crystal darkness
drinking green Uquids politely    having been redeemed
quos pretioso sanguine    by your precious blood?
Through her perfect beauty we praise you O Lord
through her perfect beauty we cry for mercy
miserere nostri, Domine, miserere nostri
for how many years in your eternal universe
can a cocktail waitress wait    for how many years
before the fabric of her pale flesh crumples
the stained glass of her eyes shatters    for how many years
in your world without end        saeculum et in saeculum saecuU?
Accept her Lord    she magnifies you day by day
and keep her, like us, die isto sine peccato
if that is possible in her place in life
or at least let her sin be less than ours.
Behold    she serves us green liquids
marble and ice    pale flesh and fine bones
In te speravi, she whispers, non confundar in aeternum.
In te, Domine, in te speravi.
White sails
dark river    closer and closer
white sails
today I bought my lover
a pendant: emeralds
set in dense Italian gold
I have no more money
white sails
The traffic on the bridge deafening
overcast skies
at five I will kill a man
he doesn't know me: this van
crossing the bridge will pass his house
we'll drink tea first
talk of China    women
he'll sit behind his desk
meanwhile my lover looks at her pendant
a tall girl: Gothic waist    arched hips
dark river    white sails
boats coming into harbour
caviar spread on thin slices of bread
bullets snug in magazines
uncorking a bottle of sparkling wine
over a shipment of flamethrowers
lunch after lunch
Long March after Long March
my bored lover turns on the radio
dials 2 for room service: pineapples
ice in taU glasses
79 Lenin said: a capitalist
will sell us the bullet that kills him
yes    Vladimir Ilyich    white sails
my capitalist
meets me at five
a gentle Jew    sad eyes and fine fingers
excellent records    perfect wine
in London no one deals with China:
they will before long    but right now
I'm buying the first bullet
observe me with pride    Vladimir Ilyich
White sails
my lover looks at her watch
toys with her pendant
tonight I'll have money
settle the bill    the airport
nothing will change but at five o'clock
dark river
white sails
I ring the bell
a maid opens the door
the library woodpanelled as I thought
drinks wheeled in discreetly
cut crystal ashtrays
a red carnation    it's true
a red carnation in his buttonhole
through the open window
I can still see it: dark river
white sails
he shakes hands firmly
we sit    Out of poUteness
I try not to look
at the red stain over his heart
80 I am slight and dark
next morning at the airport
I can sense some people watching me
as I walk along the tarmac
with my tall lover:
Gothic waist    green eyes
matching emeralds    dense Italian gold
then engines whine and wheels lock
the plane banks low over the Thames
documents in my briefcase    Bank of England
bullets    dark river
white sails
George Jonas works as a television producer for the C.B.C. in Toronto. His
new book Cities, to be published by Anansi, should be out by Christmas; his two
previous books The Absolute Smile and The Happy Hungry Man were also
published by Anansi and have been out of print for some time. He has contributed to a number of magazines and periodicals in Canada and the U.S. ■—
including Saturday Review, Macleans, Saturday Night, The Tamarack Review
and Prism.
Translated from the Slovenian by Joze Lazar
Snow is a leafy echo of autumn
rustling silently toward twilight.
The world curls up with its quiet meanings.
Dark chains hinder the step in sleep.
You near the house lit by rays
of darkest thoughts seeking a threshold.
Foggy air sniffs at the wall
where a shadow wavers Uke a specter.
Inside: digging.    Your name narrows in the dark.
You sink through thought to death which comes
as if summoned by palmistry.
In a blaze of silence you burn to the end.
When you try to run, the place stands on end like a trap.
You are your own victim, captive of your own thoughts.
The steps of birds, your measure of the earth.
A lava of wickedness and hate erupts blindly inside.
The rain swarms caught in your open ear,
slowly it begins to pierce the poUshed peace of the world.
Behind the eyelids your stiff body loosens,
and you sink into earth that softens your sight.
The barren water tunes your dead voice
till it blackens like the smell of woods.
The times are full of inimitable shudder,
you listen to the earth with your bones.
From time to time seasons flash in your eyes.
A grey veil of spiders clings to you.
Finally the sound of a bird occurs in a woof of dreams
and strews dark seeds into the world.
The oily yarn of the wind taking root
in the cloudy southern slopes
comes with new habits and blooms of memory
seeping into the summer dust.
You are trapped, quiet guest of solitude like a victim
in a deep shadow that grows darker and darker.
You fall apart within, and as if you were dead,
moss grows over your open eyes.
Out of the quiet blue a bird is falling like a stone
into your empty, inturned sigUt.
A still flame gnaws you under the skin,
you burn like a pale vision.
Into the firm silence after the rain as after a ceremony
slips the stroke of the clock shaking hands with time.
The world, frozen into a wrapped look,
sings back to it in its darkest voice.
Thick pains slice all along
the hand shining in twilight Uke a long beam.
From beneath the cool fingers you uncoil an outcry
which rises into emptiness like a whip.
Niko Grafenauer, born in Ljubljana in 1940, is among the leading young
Yugoslav poets and critics. He has published four books of poems and numerous
articles in contemporary poetry and criticism. His work has been translated into
a number of languages. He works in Ljubljana as a free lance writer and co-
editor of two literary magazines.
Joze Lazar, a Canadian of Slovene origin, has published both in Slovenian and
English. He holds two degrees in literature, and is at present working in the
Department of Comparative Literature at the University of Alberta.
84 Judith Welland was born in 1948 on a fruit farm in Southern Ontario. She is
a graduate from Carleton University and has travelled in South America and
spent two years in the north where she got to know the Inuit (Eskimo) people.
This is her first publication.
Her father, Samuel, spread an old skin on the floor in preparation
for a morning of carving. He turned a rough piece of soapstone over
and over in his hands. Weighing it. Flaking its softness with his
thumbnail. With his palm, he gathered oil from his forehead and
rubbed it into the stone till it shone dark and greenish.
Tullugak dutifully brought him his files and chisels and arranged
them on the skin. She squatted beside him, watching as he skillfully
began to shape the stone.
"What do you see in the stone?" she asked.
"I see a raven," he smiled toothlessly.
Tullugak returned her father's smile, complimented because her
name meant raven in the Inuit language. Then she returned to her
movie magazine and flipped through the worn pages, looking for
the story about a young woman who ran away from home to become a famous actress. It was Tullugak's favourite story and she
settled down to read it again even though she knew that the blond
actress killed herself with an overdose of sleeping pills.
"The wind has moved round to the north," grunted Samuel as
he gouged out a chunk of stone with his chisel.
"Soon the ice will be blown from the bay," added Tullugak's old
mother who was stirring her laundry, steaming in a big pot on the
"I hear Agalak and the others will leave as soon as the boats can
get out of the harbour," said Samuel, distracting Tullugak from the
fate of the actress. She felt relieved that the old man, Agalak, would
be gone. In the weeks since her return from school she had often
noticed his narrow eyes staring at her in a disturbing way
Then Samuel addressed her. "Tullugak." She listened respectfully
for his words. "You are a woman now." Little swirling storms of
85 dust rose with each stroke of his file. "It is time you got married."
Tullugak suddenly felt that the dust was clogging her throat. Choking her. You will leave for the island with Agalak. He has chosen
you as his wife." Tullugak gagged on the soapy dust. Unable to
protest, she grabbed her parka and ran out of the house.
Water hissed on the stove as the old woman dropped the shirt she
was squeezing and ran out in pursuit of her daughter. "Heed your
father," she croaked. "Foolish girl, you don't know your mind." But
Tullugak's young legs were already carrying her beyond the houses
of the settlement. The guttural clatter of her mother's words brought
curious faces to the nearby windows. "Liveena, Nowya," the old
woman summoned her sisters to join the chase. Stumbling on brittle
boned legs, the three women followed Tullugak across the tundra.
"Come back, TuUugak. For your honour and your family, come
back," they screeched. But their words were ripped from their
mouths and flung on the loose stones.
Like a mad woman, Tullugak fled from the old man and his sour
smell in the morning of her womanhood. She would not marry him.
He was repulsive. His stinking breath. His wrinkled face. Matted
hair. Lice. She stopped to retch up her breakfast of raw caribou
meat. Looking back, Tullugak saw that the three old women pursued her. She knew that they wheezed for air, that their twisted feet
fumbled and they would soon falter. Yet she knew too that if she
was to escape the intolerable marriage, she had to keep running
until she found somewhere to hide. And her steps sprang from the
dry moss behind her.
She was glad of the north wind though it blew against her, stinging her face and puckering her eyes. Already the ice in the bay had
crumbled into a thousand pieces and she knew that the north wind
would soon blow it out to sea. Then the boats will leave, she thought,
the old man will be too proud to wait for me. When the masts disappear in the distant waves, I will be free of him.
As Tullugak fled, her mind spilled into her feet and her lungs
swelled up like sealskin floats. Then she felt the wind move to the
side of her cheek. "Don't move. Blow from the north," she cried.
But gradually its force shifted to her shoulder and her ear grew
numb. She cursed the treachery of the wind as it settled in the south,
flattening her parka against her back and driving her across the
tundra, just as it drove the churning ice back against the shore. The
loose ice crunched against rocks, locking the boats in the harbour
and crushing Tullugak's hope that Agalak would leave without her.
86 Breast heaving and mouth slavering now, Tullugak ran instinctively toward the hill crowned by an inuksuk, the stone man that had
guided her people for centuries. She laboured up the slope and
collapsed in the shadow of the stone figure. Knowing that the old
women were far behind, she gave herself to the shallow moss and it
yielded willingly. Cushioning her. The pale sky domed above like
the inside of an empty egg and the land lay barren in all directions.
I must rest, she thought. She wished the inuksuk would enfold
her but the rock arms remained rigid and the south wind shrieked
mockeries at her. A troubled sleep came to Tullugak in the dry moss
and as she slept the sun circled the wide horizon. She was nothing,
not even a speck, to the drowsy passengers in the jet which spread
its ribbon of vapour across the sky on its daily polar flight.
"Tul-lu-gak." The sound of her name scraped at the inside of her
skull. "Tul-lu-gak." It wedged its way into her brain and pried open
her crusted lids. Sightless in the rush of sunlight, she realized that
she had slept too long for the inuksuk's shadow had left her. She lay
like a stone. "Go back, old women. Leave me to die," she moaned.
"Remember your youth. Spare me from the horror of the old man's
shrivelled body. I will not have him." Her flesh grew cold as she
waited for the hard fingers.
"Tul-lu-gak." She felt the warmth of the sun on her face and she
cautiously lifted her head. There, perched on the inuksuk's head was
a raven. "Tul-lu-gak," it repeated hoarsely.
The sight of the beautiful bird, its plumage shot with purple in
the slanting sunlight, revived her. "It's you, my friend," she
breathed, sinking back into her moss bed. But the raven hopped
down beside her and urgently repeated her name, "Tul-lu-gak."
Then she understood the raven's warning for not far away, at the
foot of the hill, she saw that the three women were resting. She had
not guessed that their worn-out bodies could endure such a chase.
"Thank you, my friend," she gathered her strength and crawled
over the hump of the hill. I must go on. I must find a place to hide
until the wind changes and the boats are gone, she thought. The
raven took three hops into the wind and flapped off toward the
mountain. I will hide in the rocks of the mountain, thought Tullugak as she ran with renewed hope, following the flight of her winged
protector. She crossed the rock ridges where the dry lichen showed
no sign of her passing. She waded through the soft sloughs where
the mud sucked at her feet and swallowed her steps. At last she
reached the boulder-strewn foot of the mountain.
87 "I must rest," she cried as she struggled over the sharp stones,
avoiding the shrinking patches of summer snow which lay like traps
set to catch her footprints. The raven waited above, his curving
shape in contrast to the jagged outline of the mountain. The wind
tangled her hair as she dragged her grudging body upwards. "I
cannot go on," she groaned but the raven insisted and with his
horny beak gently tugged a strand of her hair, guiding her toward
a dark opening. She crawled through a rough tunnel in the rocks
and into a small cave, Uttered with bleached bones half gnawed by
other hunted creatures before her.
The raven stood guard as the sun hovered on the northern horizon behind the shoulder of the mountain where, hidden at last,
Tullugak slept.
The wind blew hard from the south, jamming the ice against the
shore where the old man, Agalak, pondered the fickle wind and the
inexplicable behaviour of Tullugak, the beautiful girl he had chosen
to marry. In all his years, he could not remember a summer when
the ice had stayed so long in the bay, nor could he remember a
woman who had refused to marry the man of her father's choice.
Scoffing at Tullugak's childish disobedience, Agalak spat tobacco
juice between the yellowed stumps of his teeth, staining a swath in
the sand. But he did not reconsider his decision to marry her. She
was like the unruly bitch on his team which he kept because she
bore strong pups. He, Agalak, was respected for his strength and
wisdom and his success as a hunter. Who else could tame such a
He had heard that Tullugak favoured Tania, a foolish young
man who drove the garbage truck and canstantly shamed his family
by his drunkenness. But he didn't blame Tullugak. Many of the
young people who went south to the white man's school came home
with crazy ideas. They learned to think too much of themselves and
to question their parents, he sighed.
Agalak remembered when Tullugak had played with his children.
Before the hardest of winters when his wife had died. Before the
government had built wooden houses and the people had abandoned their camps on the land to live in the settlement. He thought
of the long, lonely years without a woman to chew his boots and lie
with him. Then Tullugak had returned from school and her beauty
had awakened something inside him. Something long forgotten. For weeks now he had admired the graceful movements of her slender
body, the shy intensity of her dark eyes and the purplish flash of her
thick hair in the sunlight.
Then Agalak had approached Tullugak's father who was a carver
and had often relied on him for meat. Samuel had willingly agreed
to the marriage. Agalak had decided to take his bride away from
the bad influence of the settlement. With two other families, they
would spend the winter on the island where caribou were plentiful
and they could live in the old way. Tullugak was strong, he told
himself, she would get used to living in a snow house. It would be
a good life.
That morning, the wind had at last shifted to the north and
Agalak had known that in a few hours the ice would be blown from
the bay. He had sent word to Samuel to bring Tullugak to the
mission where the old priest would marry them. But Samuel had
appeared shame-faced and alone. Agalak had proudly refused to
wait but then the wind had strangely veered round to the south,
cramming the ice against the shore once more and preventing him
from leaving. Agalak was secretly thankful.
Late that night when the sky was flushed with rose and violet and
the sun was half hidden by the horizon, the three old women
hobbled home. "She went toward the mountain," they muttered.
While Samuel organized a search for his daughter, the young man,
Tania, who drove the garbage truck, slung his rifle and slipped
unseen out of the settlement.
On the second day, Tullugak awoke, stiff and cramped on the cold
stone floor of her cave. As on every morning her first thoughts
were of Tania. She tingled with the memory of his kiss and longed
for him now in her misery. She crawled to the mouth of the cave
where she found the faithful raven. His presence comforted her and
she told him her story.
"Three years ago when I was fourteen I was sent away to school
in Ottawa. I lived with Mr. and Mrs. Corman. Everything was so
different. The trees. The buildings. The cars. The white people. I
was frightened and lonely. I never talked to anyone. I used to think
about my mother and father getting old. My little brothers getting
89 big. I thought of picking berries and fishing. I longed for the taste of
real meat. I was so homesick I used to cry every night but whenever
I told Mrs. Corman that I wanted to go home, she always said,
"Tullagak, you're a smart girl. You should stay here where you can
go to school. When you have a good education, you can get a job up
north and help your people."
"Then I met Tania. He was taking a heavy equipment operator's
course in Ottawa. We were so happy to talk in our own language
that we forgot about our parents' differences. We had never really
known each other at home because his family and my family
belonged to different groups and we were forbidden to play together
as children. But Mr. and Mrs. Corman knew nothing of that and
we were free to see each other whenever we liked.
"We walked in the streets together or Tania came to my house
and we sat in the living room and watched television. We needed
each other in our loneliness. We could talk about things that white
people didn't understand. Gradually our friendship turned into
something else. There was no one to tell us it was wrong even
though we both knew that our parents would disapprove if they
found out.
"When Tania's course ended and he had to go home, I felt lost.
I didn't know what to do. One day I went crazy. I tried to kill
myself but I woke up in the hospital. At first, I thought I was in
heaven but then I saw that the angels were really nurses and I was
disappointed. Mrs. Corman came to see me and she said I could go
home to my parents. I wanted to see Tania so much that I convinced myself that my parents would have changed in three years,
that they wouldn't be so old fashioned any more and that they
would let me marry Tania.
"But I was wrong. Nothing had really changed. There were more
houses and more whites in the settlement but the people were just
the same. In most ways I was happy to be home because I am Inuit
and I love my people and I love the north and I belong here but
when I tried to tell my parents about Tania, they didn't want to
listen. So Tania and I met secretly. Sometimes after a movie in the
community hall when everyone else had gone home we would sit
and talk. Sometimes at the white people's houses where I went babysitting we would lie on the couch and listen to records. I prayed that
somehow I would find a way to change my parents' minds about
Tania. Then I began to notice the way the old man, Agalak, looked
at me. He would pass close to me and I would smell his foul breath.
90 Always he watched me and I shrank from him yet I did not guess
what was in his mind."
The raven clucked knowingly as if he didn't need to be told the
rest of the story. Grateful for his company, Tullugak tried to consider
her situation.
But the wind blew hard out of the south. It seemed to be howling
at her and snapping at her fingers. She drew her hood around her
ears and thrust her hands up her sleeves. Even the rock she was
leaning against seemed to stiffen and reject her. Surrounded by
hostility, Tullugak shivered, chilled by a fear which drifted over her.
Burying her. But then she remembered something Mrs. Corman had
often told her. "You are an individual, Tullugak. You must learn to
make decisions for yourself." She had been taught to believe that
she could control her own destiny but now she felt helpless. Even if
the wind changed and the old man left without her, would she have
the strength to defy her parents and marry Tania? They would be
outcasts among their own people. Where would they go? What
would they do?
"I don't know what to do. It's too hard for me," she cried. "Why
must I choose between a disgusting old man and a life of exile with
Tania? Help me," she appealed to the raven. "Give me a sign. Tell
me what to do and I will follow your advice." But the raven only
ruffled his feathers and sharpened his beak on a rock. The scratching
noise reminded Tullugak of her father carving. She wept for her
father. She wept for Tania. She wept for herself.
Tania had been walking all day, calling her name again and
again until his voice cracked like an old man's. He knew she must
be hiding somewhere among the rocks but he could find no trace of
He sat down on a rock to think and for the last time he went over
his plan. He had brought along his rifle and a bag of food so that
they could hide on the land for a week until the plane came. Since
he had started driving the garbage truck for the government, Tania
had been careful to save some money out of each pay cheque. Now
he had almost three hundred dollars which wasn't much but at least
it would buy two plane tickets to Frobisher where he hoped to find
work. He knew they would never be accepted by their own people
but he was certain that they would find a Ufe together somewhere.
9i Maybe they would even go south, he thought, but he didn't want to
think about that because it scared him. "I must find my Tullugak,"
he said aloud. "She will be lonely and frightened."
The sun was low in the northern sky, wrapping Tania in the
shadow of the mountain. Maybe Samuel has already found Tullugak and taken her back to the settlement, he worried. In desperation, Tania banged the butt of his rifle against a rock, hoping she
would hear the noise.
Tullugak stopped sobbing when she heard it but the wind increased its furious roar, drowning out the new sound. Then she
heard it again, echoing hollowly Uke the muffled beat of a distant
drum. Tullugak stiffened, listening for a voice she might recognize.
Please, let it be Tania, she prayed. The raven listened too, then,
gathering the wind in his wide wings he flew off to investigate. Not
daring to move, Tullugak crouched in the entrance of her cave. Her
eyes clutched the dark bird, wheeling and spinning in the wind
At the sight of the raven circling above him, Tania thought of the
horrible mess the scavengers made of the garbage in the settlement.
His job was humiliating enough without having to pick up the filth
strewn about by the ravens. The great bird swooped lower. Its
raucous laughter tormented him when he was already frustrated
and worried about Tullugak. The bird seemed to be deliberately
provoking him. He could not bear it. As he waited for the raven to
pass near him again, his arm steadied. Then his finger squeezed and
the rifle recoiled into his shoulder. Pleased, Tania watched as the
dark wings crumpled and the splayed form dropped shapelessly to
the ground, spattering blood on the rocks and snow.
Then something moved among the rocks above him. Tullugak.
He watched the wind spread her hair. The sun made her look
golden at the edges but her face was in shadow. At last. Tania
leapt forward eagerly for his reunion with Tullugak.
But she was blind to Tania's shining face and deaf to his excited
cries. She went to the red black corpse and hunched over it. Fingering the bloodied feathers. Her heart contracted in self-pity for she
understood the raven's sign.
92 On the long walk back to the settlement, Tullugak never once
thought of the second shot she had heard. She moved in a trance.
Not seeing. Not caring. Yet knowing what she must do.
All through the ceremony, dry tears dripped down her throat as
she mumbled the words after the priest. Already her nostrils were
growing accustomed to the smell beside her. When they left the
church, the wind had changed.
Translated from the German by Ewald Osers
Still on this side, my Ufe.
Clocks in the east,
still night
at my shoulder:
Two birds with
pale red beaks fighting
through the grey
of your blouse.
We're drifting, neglected,
salt on our eye-lashes,
barred the harbour,
we two without lanterns,
like mutineers at the end:
you sea-shell,
I lead-weight.
Never seen
let alone
a vineyard.
And yet stretched out
under other light
my uncouth youth.
It seems
we spoke a
hard language.
From close to we saw
black blood.
Only from afar girls,
Suddenly I,
the youngest
among us shadow-throwers,
had that unsteady gait —
my only support
my rifle.
Now we must believe in it:
Everything is renewed through water,
the word in the water.
The message and
the language which I
find again in shining lumps.
Man, unrecognizable,
without cloak or feint answers for his guilt
of his own wiU.
On this side the fight continues with the wolves
in the thorax.
On the other:    no promise.
High up and very bright in the tree-tops
I spot an increasingly
green certainty,
you men and brothers.
Heinz Piontek was born 1925 in Upper Silesia and now lives in Munich. He
has published twenty books, including six volumes of poetry. He has also compiled several anthologies and written about a dozen radio plays. He is a member
of two academies and co-editor of the international annual for literature
Ewald Osers was born in 1917 in Czechoslovakia and has lived in England
since 1938. He has translated over forty books from German and Czech, including five volumes of poetry. His own poems have appeared in various magazines.
In 1971 he won the Schlegel-Tieck German translation prize. He has lectured
and broadcast on Czech poetry.
Translated from the Greek by M. Byron Raizis
Behind your hand coarse ambushes
Before your dream a colorless silence.
Acrid fruition of desire
you shoot the arrows of your hope
at the roses shedding their petals
at the dreams turned to ash.
Your hands fall off the wrists
your oars melt into the river
and when you reach the island in the middle of night
there is no calm by the fire
no coolness on the dead lips.
You spread your deep glance on the abyss
— a rising whirlwind in proud colors —
bending you pick a hidden pebble
the humblest, meekest, purest pebble.
You measure it in your expert palm
you feel its taste against your teeth
and throw it into the bottom of the well
awaiting the savage oracle
tearless, speechless, blind
into the echo of the night
into the wind of horror.
97 Kent C. Biel has been a public relations writer and a professional bartender.
He is at present taking an M.A. at McGill University and working on a book of
short stories and a book on aesthetics. This is his first published story.
Leaves and Old Greeks
My window has bars on it. They do not form a cross, rather a series
of intervals. This series is finite; it ends in stone. By applying Zeno's
paradox to my window I became almost convinced that it encompassed an infinite space. I was very pleased for a time and developed
the fantasy that I was the master of an infinite world presented to
me through the courtesy of my window without benefit of commercials. This fantasy was short lived. Outside my window are trees
with naked branches to which cling one or two shivering leaves.
They shiver even when there is no wind as though afflicted with
Parkinson's disease. I grew tired of looking at these pathetic specimens and desired that they vanish. I reasoned that my infinite window should not have to present the same scenery all the time.
Nothing happened. The trees remained stubbornly before my view
and the leaves continued to wave perilously in the autumn wind. I
saw that my window was not infinite after all. I saw that Zeno and
his paradox were in my mind. I saw that the window was discrete
and singular. I saw death.
The Scruples of Conscience and A Heavenly Quest
It is, I suppose, unavoidable that Sheila's blood should occasionally
splash like a warm ocean wave against my conscience. On those
nights I see her standing in a ruddy aura, while dark shadows play
menacingly around her feet. I don't, of course, believe in ghosts. I
believe in the Marquis de Sade, Attila the Hun and the Ufe
98 I did once go in search of heavenly bodies, having retained some
vague image of angels and cherubim from my youth. I went to a
bookstore to see if I could first locate some factual material. In
response to my query about heavenly bodies, the girl in the bookstore handed me a copy of Playboy. I thought that she was joking
and asked her if she had any personal acquaintance with heavenly
bodies to which she replied that she had been one ever since birth.
I retorted that this ad hominem argument was not to the point
and deciding to abandon our Platonic dialogue for a more empirical
approach I seized her left breast. She cried out that this was a
deliberate non sequitur and grasped my penis in a post hoc
propter hoc kind of grip which brooked no nonsense. I countered
with the brilliant ad hoc ploy of applying my mouth to her right
breast, which left her gasping in admiration. Almost in extremis
she resorted to the ex nihilo argument of dropping her skirt and
panties, a move which left me such a decisive opening that I carried
the day with a nunc stans.
Spaghetti Under The Umbrella
I wonder whether these experiences have contributed to the malformation of my life; or whether my life has its own private geometry. On the day I first met Sheila I was standing in the rain at a
downtown intersection listening to the groans of the city as it choked
on its victims: the smog and mist like a monstrous fetid breath.
Taxis caromed from sidewalk to sidewalk picking up human debris.
There was a steady drip of rain down the back of my neck which
somehow kept the skyscrapers from toppling on my head. Sheila
came running towards me in a red plastic raincoat, like a sudden
hibiscus in the damp afternoon. She was a blind date. I did not then
know how blind.
We ate lunch at a small restaurant with candles and chequered
tablecloths. Sheila's laughter spread itseh over the table like a gay
umbrella. I was sorry to be out of the rain. I have never cared for
comfort. I've always carried toothaches around like babies in my
mouth. While Sheila twisted her spaghetti around her fork I told
her about my hatred of straight lines. Her laughter rang like a gong
inside my skull, awakening strange echoes.
Wartime Friends
We were always together. Nobody knew why. Sheila was gregarious
while I was solitary. SheUa was happy while I was sad. Shefla was
99 wealthy while I was not. Sheila had eyes like country club swimming pools and a tanned body that smelled of chlorine. I do not like
to swim. We went everywhere together in her Alfa Romeo sportscar.
Often we would disappear into the country and drive for miles
along winding back roads, the gravel squirting under the tires as we
took the corners. At night we would stay at a roadside inn where
Sheila invariably made new friends while I drank myseh into insensibility. There was something unreal about these trips. I felt like a
wartime soldier who is always aware that he is about to return to
the front lines.
Monsters, Rabbits and a View of Pompeii
Yes, Sheila lived in the perpetual sunshine of certainty which belongs to pretty girls who also happen to be rich; while I slunk about
in the soggy marshes of the unexpected, explaining endlessly to anyone who would listen that there was absolutely no reason why the
sun should rise the next morning or that a man with three heads
should not rise up out of the floor. I have always been intrigued by
the unusual. The fact that in 1748 an ItaUan peasant fell down a
well and landed in the ruins of Pompeii has for me a strange resonance. I think of Alice and white rabbits.
I studied the papers anxiously for scraps of unusual news with
which I could demonstrate my arguments. One day I discovered a
gem. Reuters International reported that doctors in North Vietnam
had removed a monster from a man's stomach. The monster was
located between the right kidney and the right lung. It weighed 1.5
kilograms and measured 25 centimeters in length. It had a monstrous tongue capping the head, which had a cyclopic eye and
vestiges of a jaw with well formed teeth. Its inferior limbs resembled
two chicken legs. Everybody laughed at this article, but I removed
it carefully from the newspaper and placed it in a small chamois
pouch which I wear hanging from my neck on a leather thong.
Such treasurers are too rare to be lost. They are powerful talismans
against the tyranny of straight lines.
Labyrinths, Roller Coasters
And Dangerous Driving in a Wheelchair
It takes five paces to traverse the length of my room, but it always
takes me more because I change direction with every step. On the
walls I have drawn with a piece of red chalk, circles, spirals and
squiggly lines which run nowhere to protect me against the oppres-
100 sion of my room. The people who put me in here think that I am
mad. But I have studied the psychology of madmen and I know
that I am not mad. In fact, the only time that I am able to converse
with a sane person is when I am alone in my room. Madness is
straight Unes. Strait jackets. One speaks of being in dire straits. The
straight man around whom the clown weaves the bright circles of
his wit. Yes, it's all there in the language. The good old tongue that
the natives speak. Dismal as rain.
I am studying the possibility of constructing a labyrinth on the
floor of my room which will make it impossible for me to complete
the journey from one wall to the other. My room would then be a
kind of infinity. Maybe they won't allow me to do it. We'll see.
I love roller coasters. You might have guessed that. Sheila and I
used to visit the carny all the time just to ride on the roller coaster.
She screamed a lot. I wonder if my father screamed the night he
drove his wheelchair in a straight line off the end of a pier in Vancouver. It would have sounded different under water. Glub, glub.
Or maybe a high-pitched burble. My father was never the same
after he fell from a girder on the third floor of the apartment building he was helping to rivet together. He fell thirty feet straight down
without any fancy somersaults or other deviations. They blamed it
on gravity.
It was the straight lines that got him. We all know that; those of
us who are still sentient. The other day I stepped off a sidewalk into
the path of an oncoming car to avoid coming to the end of a block.
The driver swerved over the white line and snarled at me as he
accelerated past. Another two feet and the straight lines would have
gotten me too.
The Geometry of Sheila's Ass
Sheila's ass was composed of two beautiful hemispheres which together formed a perfect circle. At the entre of this unblemished
harmony, I would sometimes take root in order to meditate on the
nature of things. Rotating on my axis like some gigantic weather-
vane, I contemplated the designs of destiny. As I pushed deeper into
the centre of Sheila's universe looking for my own, I was considerably buoyed by the absurd thought that if you take the shit out of
cosmic, you get comic. Reassured by this and kindred reflections, I
sent out agents to investigate the unkown terrain of Sheila's body.
First my left hand. Then my right hand. But all my left hand ever
encountered was the soft round globe of Sheila's left breast. And all
101 my right hand ever encountered was the equally soft and round
globe of Sheila's right breast. In consequence of this I developed my
spherical theory of the universe in which I maintained that man as
we know him is a distorted sphere; only when he recaptures the
perfection of his lost circularity can he ever be whole. I owed it all
to Sheila, who if you must know was my first and last wife and who
is now dead. She stumbled against a breadknife which I was holding
in my hand in the kitchen of our apartment at 3 a.m. one rainy
summer morning. It was the only mistake round little Sheila ever
made. It was also her last.
On Non-Euclidean Geometry and Soil Analysis
There are questions which have to be asked that have nothing to do
with Euclid. How did Nietzsche comb his hair? How did Rabelais
go to the toilet? How did Augustine bathe himself? How did
Dostoievsky eat his dinner? History is a piece of Swiss cheese filled
with these lacunae which I struggle endlessly to digest. I martial my
thoughts like soldiers and send them marching out to vanquish
these riddles. But reality is as crooked as a dog's hind leg and my
armies lose their way and meet with terrible disasters. I used to hide
my depleted troops in the dark confines of Sheila's warm body.
Straight lines have the inflexibility of iron. It does no good to beat
your head against them like an epileptic woodpecker. But straight
lines cannot contain the soul if you only remember that you have
one. There has been a lot of talk about iron in the soul. Well, I did
some research on the subject and had intended to write a book
about it, but I guess I won't have the time now. It all starts with
plants. They put down roots into the soil. These roots are covered
with hairs which curl like tiny fists around granules of dark earth.
They squeeze the iron out of the earth and transmit it back up
through the root. The plant stores the iron in its multiple stomachs
which gradually swell and grow heavy. We pick this fruit and eat it,
being careful to spit out the sexual parts. The iron finds its way into
our blood and bones. When an adult male is cremated, one tenth
of an ounce of pure iron can be mined from his ashes. In my
opinion this is not too much for the soul to cope with. Doubtless
they have radar at the pearly gates, but I don't think they would
bust you for a tenth of an ounce.
The Humorous Penis and Adam Smith
The Orientals understand that life is curved. They have been draw-
102 ing round mandalas everywhere for thousands of years. Columbus
was a little late. My penis is curved like the smile on a clown's face.
Women have been saying for a long time that they are going to
straighten me out but I don't think they'll succeed. Besides, it's a
little late for that now.
Sheila was always very satisfied until she got fouled up in that
women's liberation thing. She began to be paranoid. She said my
prick smiled at her in a sardonic kind of way. She said I didn't
appreciate her. I replied that her curves were the most perfect I had
ever seen. She started to cry and said that I didn't have any respect
for her mind. That was a really stupid thing to say. It wasn't my
fault she was born without a mind. Nor did I ever hold it against
her. After that we began to drift apart. Her body lost its fluid contours and grew angular. I could see that she was in the grip of the
straight lines.
It was then that I became really desperate. No longer could I
take root between Sheila's beautiful buttocks. I began to brood. One
day I met Pinhead in a bar. He was sitting on the barstool next to
me lecturing everyone within earshot on the evils of Adam Smith
and his pin factories. Pinhead's voice was swollen with aggravation.
"This cat," he was saying. "This cat prodoosed pins at a faster
clip than anybody before him. You know how?" Pinhead cocked his
head and scrutinized his audience. Satisfied that he alone was in
possession of the necessary revelation, he continued. "By inventing
the division of labour that's how. He took all these dudes that was
formerly workin on their farms in the fresh air an he divided them
up like a football team so's they could make pins.
"Pretty soon they was prodoosin pins somethin unbelievable. But
it wasn't doin nobody no good, 'cept for some fat cats who was
exploitin the situation. You can't eat no pins. You can't drink 'em
neither. Today we got brothers starvin in the streets and they're
makin pins faster than the universe can tolerate. Now I ask you.
What possible use is pins when brothers is starvin?" Pinhead emphasized the last point by tapping on the bar with a forefinger as thick
as a sausage. He waited for everyone to realize the enormity of his
question. I could see that in his own way, Pinhead hated straight
lines as much as I do. I decided to enter the monologue.
"Perhaps they're useful for angels to dance on," I suggested. Pinhead spun round on his barstool and glared at me. Close up Pinhead has a skull as big and round as a boulder. No pins are going
to make headway against him. Here and there his face shows scars
103 where some dudes have made assaults on his dignity as a human
being. They must still be trying to get back up. Suddenly he broke
into appreciative laughter, his white teeth bouncing up and down
like California condominiums in an earthquake.
"That's right brother. That's right. Dancin angels. But I don't
intend to be no angel for some time to come." He laughed again.
We bought each other drinks until the room turned giddily around
and Pinhead's laughter curved like the circles of Stonehenge in my
Curve Balls and Astrology
After this successful introduction I began to fraternize with Pinhead
and his circle. We met about twice a week for beers and conversation. At these meetings Pinhead talked constantly of the coming
revolution. One evening when I was asked for my opinion I elaborated so brilliantly and exhaustively on my hatred of straight lines
that there was a moment of admiring silence at the table before
everyone broke into applause.
"This brother," said Pinhead, looking significantly around the
table, "is going to help throw a curve ball past all those fat cats up
there in the power complex."
Pinhead now took me more and more into his confidence, until
one night he asked me to meet him at his place, intimating that
something very important had come up. When I got to Pinhead's
apartment, a group of very tense looking people were sitting in a
circle in the living room. Cushions were strewn on the floor and a
long pipe was making the rounds. Pinhead introduced me. There
was Blue Boy curled around a twelve string guitar and singing Bob
Dylan songs. He gave me a wan smile. There was Halftrack who
had been to Vietnam and driven a halftrack over a Vietcong antitank mine. Ever since then, Pinhead confided, he had only been
about half way on the track. He acknowledged me without saying
anything, his face like a drawn curtain. Wonder Woman was under
five feet tall with a voice as deep and hollow as an empty tomb. She
correctly identified me as a Scorpio. She was the group astrologer.
Solomon and The Corporate Demise
It was Wonder Woman who convinced me to throw the bomb. I
saw at once that her weird incantations and circles of Solomon were
powerful weapons against the monstrosity of straight lines. By making   my   horoscope  and  using  other  astrological   data,   Wonder
104 Woman divined that the following Thursday was propitious for our
act of liberation. She chose the very intersection where I had first
met Sheila, a coincidence which I found somehow reassuring.
Blue Boy was a demolitions expert. He unwound himself from his
guitar long enough to prepare the bomb, singing the "Tombstone
Blues" over and over in an expressionless voice. Halftrack was
assigned as my helper and instructed to obey my orders. The idea
was to hurl the bomb at a high ranking executive of a large corporation as he emerged from his offices during the noon hour. The death
of this man in full view of his fellow citizens would force the nation
to listen seriously to the demands of the revolutionary organization.
I was to report to Pinhead as soon as the job was done.
What The Clock Said
It was raining on the appointed Thursday. I sometimes think it has
been raining all the days of my life. I couldn't see anything for
Halftrack to do, so I sent him to get coffee and a sandwich around
the corner. I stood in the shelter of a doorway across the street from
the corporation waiting for twelve o'clock. There was a clock on the
bank adjacent to me, so I didn't have to worry about the time. It
hung out over the sidewalk and stared down at me like an enormous
eye. I began to get dizzy looking at the skyscrapers and every so
often I held my hand out in the rain to feel the warm drops splatter
against the skin. Looking up into the rain I could see the telephone
wires etched in straight black lines against the grey sky. It seemed as
though the wires were holding up the sky.
The bomb inside my jacket throbbed painfully against the skin
like an enormous boil. The minutes ticked by like stealthy footsteps.
The big hand on the clock clung desperately to each black island
before lurching across the white interval to a new and perilous
destiny. I saw that each segment was really an arc in the sweep of
an hour. For a moment I understood that all straight lines are really
curves. But the clock struck the hour and like an actor taking his
cue the executive stepped out onto the street conversing with two
aides. He'll need more than band-aides after this, I thought stupidly,
as I ran towards him waving the bomb like the holy grail and being
careful not to run in a straight line.
The Lonesome Death of Halftrack
As the bomb traced a beautiful parabola through the air, I saw
Halftrack immediately behind the  executive's pinstripe suit, his
105 mouth going up and down as he chewed mechanically on a sandwich. I don't know what simple minded impulse had brought him
there, but the next moment he was part of a bloody bouquet traced
on the grey stone corporation wall. Nobody touched me as I ran
blindly away.
Pinhead was very pleased with my success. He was sorry about
Halftrack but he said the revolution would remember his sacrifice.
And after all it was the corporate imperialist bastards who had sent
him over to Vietnam and made him into a mental midget. If he
hadn't been a mental midget he wouldn't have died. Those sons of
bitches with their military-industrial complex wouldn't be satisfied
until they had killed every decent human being in the country, said
Pinhead. Blue Boy began to compose a song called "The Lonesome
Death of Halftrack."
Bedtime and Nursery Rhymes
Of course I had to tell Sheila. You can't kill people and not tell
somebody about it. I had to shout it into the darkness of her womb;
back there where the juices lapped against her ovaries, at the very
centre of Einstein's curved universe. I told her everything as we
heaved and panted together.
"Really," she said. "I've always known these fantasies of yours
would get you into trouble. Your mind is warped. The inside of your
brain must be as crooked as a pretzel. You remind me of a nursery
There was a crooked man,
And he walked a crooked mile,
He found a crooked sixpence
Beside a crooked stile,
He bought a crooked cat,
And it caught a crooked mouse,
And they all lived together
In a crooked little house.
I looked at her. The angular bones in her face were pointed at me
Uke lances. The bed was a white grid of straight lines.
I got up and went into the kitchen where I gloomily made myself
a peanut butter sandwich. Sheila followed me.
"What are you going to do?" she asked.
I didn't know. I felt as though a bubble in my brain had burst
and air was leaking through my ears like steam out of a kettle. I felt
diminished.   Sheila  was staring  at  me.   My variegated  humihty
106 arched like a rainbow through the triumph of her eyes. The light in
the kitchen was hard and brilliant. I could see that the walls ran
into sharply angled comers. I could feel the walls closing like a pair
of giant iron scissors. Those razor sharp lines were going to cut me
in two. Sheila saw the fear in my eyes and took a step towards me.
The walls started to contract faster. I struck with the bread knife.
It was self defense. The life drained from Sheila's eyes and they
stared emptily at the ceiling. It was as though the plugs had been
pulled in all the country club swimming pools across the nation.
Priests and Rubber Balls
The prison chaplain has eyes like cathedral windows, full of shadows
and stained glass. He has a nose like a ruler which points incessantly.
I asked him if God was round and he told me that God has no form
whatsoever. That's all he knows. Last night I dreamed that God
was a red rubber ball bouncing down the curved corridors of my
mind. I was laughing and chasing the ball. Soon the electricity will
rage in a tempest through the nerves and circuits of my flesh. But
the bouncing ball, all red and rubbery, will continue its circular trip
across this round, round world.
that is the worst of it    following
the long and treacherous trail over
& around the glacier    the tall pines
if there is a low sky    prick the clouds
& there is sudden rain    & if
there are no clouds    they fall
& shatter on the rock like ice
the rock groans under the weight
of the glacier    the hard ice
breaks into the water like bones
here    on this side of the mountain
there is quiet    here we are still
climbing over the broken rocks
watching our bodies move in the water
if it pleases you    consider these
stumps of dark trees in black water
the sun    the feathers & skeleton
of some small bird under the porch
apples softening & turning brown
fallen from the trees with richness
the grey rot of the ancient totems
the lines that crack the white bones
of the skull apart    the moon in winter
if it pleases you    consider    these
your responsibilities
R. D. Swets has been published in a number of literary periodicals. He is
presently teaching Creative Writing in the Calvin College Upward Bound
Translated from the Greek by M. Byron Raizis
The sounds of steps
Are they echoes of self-mastered thought?
The insignificant causes the rift
and insincerity is its reason.
Our friends! . .. Who are they?
A polyphony wedged
into a wall of the heart.
Too bad the morning magic
goes to waste
amidst conventional smiles
and a voice doing acrobatics.
The morning magic
— in a child's awakening.
The hours of silence have no price.
Hours that teach you to love
whatever is worth, in the manner it is worth
wherever you are, whatever you have become.
A lightblue hue
and coolness run away
from a ravine
toward an idyll.
Mountain slopes, fields
are witnesses
shallow roots on the surface
are paths
and labyrinth shadows
are nests.
And the sun talks softly
to memory, panting
when the lips turn upwards,
when the eyelids consent.
Nadina Demetriou (born 1927) has published two collections of poems in
Greek, Quests I (1970) and Quests II (1972).
Triandafillos Pittas is a Greek poet, short story writer and essayist. Born
1912, he has published several books of prose and verse. His story "The Monsters Are Coming" was published in the Spring 1973 issue of The Literary
M. Byron Raizis is an English Professor at the University at Carbondale, Illinois, and has published verse translations from the Greek in Prism twice before,
as well as in The Southern Review, The Literary Review, The Charioteer and
Ill Dave Margoshes is a newspaperman, lives and works in Calgary, and has published short fiction and poetry in a number of little magazines and other periodicals. He has a novel in progress which will be completed shortly.
One of the sunflower seeds she ate that morning lodged in a
corner of her body she hadn't known about and took root. She felt
something there, like a distant itch, whispered "Oh," quite by surprise — as if suddenly remembering something she had known would
happen but had forgotten about, then realized after it was over —
and took a nap. When she awoke, she felt better.
But with days, there was no accounting for the things she said
and did. Peter noticed, of course, but said nothing. There are things,
he had always felt and still, despite the years, clung to, which she
must work out for herself. He examined her stool while she was
shopping but found nothing of note.
A doctor was called. "Lena," he said, chewing on his lower lip,
then the upper, then the lower again until she feared for him and
grew restless, "this can't go on. Now tell me" — he had a way of
gasping out words as if afraid they would catch in his teeth, fall
back on his tongue and strangle him — "what is the matter."
"I don't know," she insisted, and it was the truth — sort of —
with no one really more upset about it than she. It was just an itch,
as if there was something there which shouldn't be, and the feeling
of green crawling all over her. "Can't you tell Doctor Lieber what
you mean," Peter implored her, hoping to break through with tears
if not pouting, "what you mean by green?"
"No," she said, "you know. Just green." That was that. The
blood tests showed nothing.
After that, the itching spread, then became a tickle. Over the
phone, the doctor merely nodded his head, as if he had heard it all
before, and rolled his eyes, leaving Peter exasperated. His work
suffered for it and rumours spread through his office Uke the confetti
112 he had seen after the war, pieces of it catching in his hair. But Lena
was content. "It's kind of nice, actually," she explained to him,
giggling, "it just tickles." She could feel it growing.
She would sit, in the afternoons, when the sunlight spread across
the veranda Uke a thick cream her grandmother had once taught
her how to make, often crocheting, which she did badly but attacked with a relish, or reading, which she took Uttle interest in but
subscribed to because she knew it was expected of her. She was
reading a novel during that time which had some hundred lives
entwined throughout its rough, fresh pages, all grasping for air like
divers whose lines have been severed, and she struggled to find
amongst them all one whom she might think of as the main character— was hero still the word? — someone whom, had Peter or
anyone else asked her, she might say the thing was about, but he
eluded her. She looked up often from those dizzying pages, covered
with tight, black little words which seemed to move, like ants, to let
her eyes wander about the room, checking for dust specks in the air
where the sunbeams pointed them out.
She would sit, quite motionlessly, quite silently, for long moments
which seemed to have no time — for she didn't grow tired or bored
— and stare at the tassles of her purple shawl and the endless
variety of shapes they took as they fell upon her bare knees. At times
she would fancy, when her knee was held up just right and the
tassles fell a certain way, that there was a wig there, a funny purple
wig, or that, in fact, her knee had sprouted hair — not the soft,
almost invisible threads of what Peter, in bed, called her "peachie
peachies," but a full head of hair, cut in Julius Caesar style, and
quite purple. At any rate, it was amusing to think of it. Then, at
other times, it would appear as if a centipede — a centipede times
ten, that is — was crawling up her leg, its tiny purple legs just
cresting the knoll of her knee; she waited breathlessly for its body to
appear, and the fearsome head. This was amusing too, but could, if
she thought about it a certain way, or for too long, become frightening, and often, too, it would remind her again of the itching and
would upset her.
That was the trouble. It would turn into a tickle, which was fine,
but it wouldn't stay that way, it would relapse for a while. That was
discomforting. But all the while, she could feel it growing.
Then again, coming out of the laundry one day, her arms filled
to her chin with warm sheets and dainty things smelling like hot
loaves from the oven, she ran into—reaUy did bump into, almost
"3 knocked down — a woman she knew. "Hello, Lena." "Oh, hi, sorry,
I didn't see you." "That's all right, how are you, how is Peter?"
"Fine, and you..." Coming home, she had gone straight to the
mirror and stared at herself, the crumpled laundry still engulfed in
her arms, now cool. Then she dropped it on the floor. The surprising thing was that she looked so normal.
Finally, burping one morning, she tasted it and knew what it was,
and for a long while she was ecstatic. She realized, too, that she had
really known all along, and she reproached herself for those wasted
hours of wondering and worrying. The idea of it was almost as
fresh as it was itseU, almost as all-consuming. But when Peter found
out, he was furious.
He had been checking her stool again — poor thing, he really
had no need, he could have asked her, but he had long since given
that up as a waste of time — and found a dead leaf. He swore, even
though he knew she didn't like it, in front of her. It had gone that
"What the hell does this mean, Lena?" he exploded. He was
standing in the bedroom, his foot up on the end of the frame, his
face almost red, his eyes, which stared down at her like those of a
prey stalking a mouse under a rock, seeming to reflect almost a
sense of betrayal. He held out the leaf, freshly rinsed, on a soggy
paper towel, in front of him like an accusing piece of evidence which
was supposed to mean more than it actually did. "What do you
think you're doing?"
Lena, who had been sitting up in bed watching the air circulate
before he had come crashing into the room like a storm to swirl the
dust, pulled the covers up around her chin now and pursed her lips.
She felt slightly embarrassed and also, somewhat defensively, private, as if it were the TV repairman who had wandered into her
bedroom, or even a complete stranger.
"I didn't do it on purpose," she said, quite defiantly, after she
had explained, quite sweetly. "I didn't know that it would grow."
She opened her mouth and leaned her head back into the pillows,
gesturing with a hand, and he came around beside her and, reluctantly, leaned over and peered in.
"I don't see a damn thing," he said, angrily, suddenly feeUng ill.
Then his tone softened. "Except your damn tonsils. I always thought
you had them removed when you were a child." He sat down on
the side of the bed and took her hand. "Now, Lena ..." he began.
114 "I did have them removed," she cut in idly, then added, apologetically, "I did."
The doctor was summoned again and, after much dramatic
whispering in the living room — it sounded Uke the roar of a freight
train going by to Lena, who had been ordered to stay where she was
— he sat himself quite expansively on the chair Peter pulled up
beside the bed and screwed his features into an authoritarian mask.
He took her pulse, temperature and blood pressure, listened to the
beating of her heart, and did a variety of other mysterious probings
and tappings all of which, clearly, it seemed to Lena, were meant to
delay the moment of truth, as it were. She smiled.
"Honestly," she told him, arching her eyebrows in a way which
she knew to be becoming to her — in fact, she was feeUng quite
elfin — "I don't have bad breath."
Finally, ordering her to say "Ah," he adjusted his glasses and
peered in. Abruptly, he rose, knocking over the chair and doing
some slight damage to Peter's shins, which happened to be in the
way, as they usually were, and strode from the room. After that,
Lena grew quite dizzy with the number of phone calls, the ringings
of the door bell, the comings and goings, the endless array of faces
which hovered above her, smiled quickly — the mouths uttering
hurried "Helios," various names, and "Say ah's" — and then
plunged toward her mouth. Her jaws, before the specialists decided
to call it quits, grew tired.
She sat, propped up, in bed. She felt fine, of course, but nobody
would befieve her. She was under orders — so many, she quickly
forgot most of them. Just one thing she had been adamant about —
there would be no rooting about, no cutting, "and no pruning,
either, my love," she added piquantly to Peter, whose hair was
actually beginning to turn grey, and who was under sedation much
of the time. Poor Peter — it was he, she was sure, who was in need
of medical attention.
Tiny, slender, fragile green tendrils had begun to trail from her
mouth by now, and, as they sucked in the air and the sunlight, the
bulbs burst open. There were some inconveniences, of course —
brushing her teeth was a particular problem, and kissing Peter, who
didn't need to be reminded, was totaUy out of the question — but
stiU it was pleasant. There was a certain amount of pride, of course,
but Lena was not the type to dwell over tilings like that. Mostly it
was the aroma which pleased her, and the fresh, dewy taste her
mouth had now at all times come to have.
"5 There wasn't much to do, lying there in bed, but Peter had rolled
in the TV set, and magazines — some of them with stories about
her in them, usually terribly inaccurate, although no photographs,
because Peter wouldn't allow it — popped up at her bedside table
as mysteriously and as often as the new buds would appear.
She contented herself with the endless delight of watching the
petals — there were quite a few of them now — unfold, slowly,
agonizingly slowly, so slowly that an entire morning could be
devoted to just one, and as the stem grew longer and the tendrils
more limber, those flowers, some of them quite large, would nestle
about her breasts and she wheedled the assistance of Peter, who was
reluctant and somewhat shocked but now completely resigned to
doing whatever she asked, in taking off her nightgown. The freshness she felt was beyond words.
But at the same time she could feel the tiredness growing in her,
much in the way dust will settle into the invisble threads of a cobweb in the corner between a ceiling and two walls — slowly, imperceptibly, until, suddenly, it is there, visible, disturbing. There was
nothing she could do to sweep it away.
It was vexing, too, to see the way poor Peter suffered. He had
changed, all the fun had gone out of him. He no longer went to
the office — she didn't ask him why not, and he didn't volunteer
the information, but she suspected the worst — but moped around
the house, forever cleaning up where no one had dirtied, forever
rearranging, as if to surprise her, she who never went to look, forever popping in to see her, sitting on the bedside, careful not to
touch the leaves or vine — that was another thing she was adamant
about — and taking her hand in silence, smihng weakly.
But there was something else, too, something more troubling than
all the rest combined. She felt new yearnings — she herself felt the
need to grow and cUng and open herseh up to the sun and the air.
Peter now slept in the living room, on the sofa, poor dear, and it
was easy, at night, without disturbing him, to rise and go to the
window, fling it open and let her blossoms traU out into the night
air. It grew hard, progressively, for her to walk, and always, returning to bed, she would fall into a deep, exhausted sleep, bending her
knees in, raising her arms in a curve above her head. Her mouth
puckered and in the morning she would drink greedily, through a
straw, from the glass Peter brought her.
It wasn't enough. The chafing of her skin was the most apparent
outward sign, but there were more compeUing ones inside her, ones
116 she couldn't comprehend herseh, let alone convey. That afternoon,
when Peter went to do the marketing, she gathered up all the
strength which she had and arose.
She trailed through the Uving-room and out to the veranda, then
down the steps, almost falling, and onto the grass. It was a beautiful
day, all that she could have asked for. The sun was high above, a
vibrating globule of fat in a clear, eggshell blue pudding of a sky
speckled daintily with films of cloud. The grass was rich and tall —
it had prospered weh through Peter's neglect — and she flung herself into it, letting its coolness bathe her burning skin like a lotion
her mother had applied to her back as a child, when they summered
at the seashore. She dug her fingers into the soil, pushing them deep
within to where the heart of the coolness and moisture lay. Then,
with the tears indistinguishable from the drops of dew on her face,
she was at ease, at last. More — she was happy; she felt her soul
tremble, quiver, surge, then fling itself open with a gasp of refief.
She grew dizzy as the air sucked at her, as she sucked at the air. At
last, she heard the buzzing of the bees, faint, growing clearer, becoming real, and she felt herself smile as they came to her in her
from "Emily Carr"
Here are the dark people
here beneath the raven
the astonished masks
in tunnels of fern
the sky presses in on them
their town is made of
and the blue beaks of
velvet bracken    piercing light
how can I capture the sombre luxury of
this nirvana
I have lived so long with skies
that smell of buildings
I am unprepared for this
these skies falling like green fur
and the props of the totem poles
brooding over the corners
where can I move in this picture
I feel uncertain edges
the frames do not fit
and yet in this cool captivity
liquid life
surges through me
my feet sink and spring
in this moist enclosure
I run it
stroke by stroke
through my memory
from "Emily Carr"
I    can    paint    trees
like totems
limit my vocabulary
to a few strong strokes
identify all living things
as beaver   wolf   and    bear
chisel them into
the affirmation of
clefts and hollows
whose inverted simphcity
is stronger than the coastal mountains
place my own feet on
the cedar roots
and lock them into my
and the dUettantes who anger all my
will see my own face
peering through the
leaves        hostile    wary    cunning
as the raven
my beak ready to
tear out their
pastel coloured
Florence McNeil has been published in Forty Women Poets of Canada and
will be in a new anthology Margaret Atwood is bringing out; she has co-edited
for the Sono Nis Press a book of poetry for children, soon to be released.
"9 Eugene McNamara teaches English at the University of Windsor. His poems
and stories have appeared in various magazines and a collection of poems,
Passages, has been published by the Sono Nis Press.
"Huh," said Keith, "I ran across an old article of yours in the
Journal of Communications and Society yesterday. Something about
the influence of Raymond Chandler on contemporary poetry. Have
you done any more on that lately — "
"No," said Miles who was trying to get the waitress's attention.
The pub was more crowded than ever now, what with the drinking
age lowered. Goddam kids. "Two more here," he called.
"No, I don't labour in that vineyard anymore. I'm doing research on sewers now."
"Sewers," said Keith. The waitress balanced over them, setting
the glasses down, she had a nice ass.
"Have one for yourself," Miles said. She smiled mechanically.
"Yes," Miles said. "I wanted to get into something that was dead,
underground, nobody cared about it, safe and dead. So I think it's
"Sewers," said Keith.
"Fascinating stuff," Miles said. "You know it's not all that simple
either. There are branch sewers, connecting sewers, combined, depressed and common — and intercepting, overflow — "
"Smelly though, huh? Lot of shit — "
"No, no," said Miles. "One must not thing — think — that a
human entering a sewer is putting his life in danger. It is perfectly
safe to enter your average well-maintained sewer. The air is not
unpleasant and no discomfort is felt."
120 "Uh," said Keith.
"However, no man should enter an untested sewer alone," Miles
a finger in the air, spoke more slowly. "Dangerous gasses are sometimes encountered."
"Can't even be alone in a sewer," said Keith.
"Without warning — No, not even there. And the biolysis of
sewage — fascinating, fascinating — "
"Just shit — "
"Rapid disappearance of available oxygen, urea, ammonia and
other products of putre-fact-ive de-comp-o-sition," Miles said. "And
then there are your proteins broken down to form mercaptions,
sulfides and finally nitrification — Not just shit," Miles shook his
head, "Not just shit. Your ordinary sewage is grey, not unlike your
common dishwater. Fascinating, just — "
"So are zeppelins," said Keith. "I seem to remember that you
were into zeppelins awhile back."
"So I was," said Miles. "So I was. How about two more?"
"I've got a lecture. Sheeet. Sewers. And you're the man that did
the definitive book on Buddy Holly. What a comedown."
"Not when you think of it," said Miles, frowning in the direction
of the waitress's ass. "Both dead. And always there. Right there, all
the time."
Miles went over to the States for the annual conference on comics.
All the better comiclorists were there: Spink, who had done the
ultimate definitive study of Gasoline Alley and American Fascism,
Lewis, whose book on Batman had confounded an entire generation
of homosexualist theorists, Bates, the. Marvel Group man, and a lot
of up and comers. Miles was respected by now, a force to be dealt
with, at least in the odd footnote.
Oh, of course that editor in California wanted to do a collection
of his essays, and the cranks here and there who wanted to dispute
with him about stuff he had written and promptly forgot about six
years ago. And the graduate students who wanted offprints to use
in their dissertations. These requests were lately to have a vaguely
smug air about them, as if here were a final source to nail down in
a more up to date work, a totem nod towards a quaint past, the
pioneer work done by such critics as Miles Connolly, though now
largely superseded by —■ It would be annoying, if it weren't so
amusing, and he weren't so —
Cast a cold eye, on life. On death.
121 "We must remember that the Beatles themselves were the children
of immigrants," Miles said, swirling his drink in a small circle so
that the ice rattled. The bright young men, some of them disciples
of Frye (why were they here?) frowned in a priggish way.
"And add to this fact how blues and protest, already dehydrated,
so to speak, processed, as it were, into the white rock and roll mode
underwent even further sea changes moving to Liverpool — "
"Weren't they a skiffle group to begin with," said a young man
wearing a very wide tie and national health spectacles. He knew
they were. "Which indicated nativist tradition — "
"True, true, absolutely," Miles nodded at each word, "Tu~rue.
But think of the impact of Bill Haley on England of fifty-seven.
Emerging consciousness of second generation irish immigrants,
parallel to shock of urban ghetto on rural black: shock of recognition, creation of instant esperanto, understood, felt on subverbal
nonrational immediate —"
Somebody made the point that there were disturbing impUca.-
tions Beatlemania had been divorced from genuine protest hysteria,
no real disenfranchisement in back of it. Did this not posit a future
of unending chaos and perpetual revolution?
None of them were too damn interested anyhow, being essentially comiclorists, but Miles kept it up for a few more minutes, just
to see if he could keep his hand up, see if the old grease was still
He was on his way back to the bar when he saw Joan standing in
his path.
The same face, the same half-sardonic inquiring eyes that seemed
to go right into him, the same tilt of the head, somehow proud. But
an older face, a few delicate definite wrinkles near the eyes.
"Hello," she said. "Your moustache suits you."
Her voice shook just a little, as it used to, he remembered. Still
something there. Yes, possible —
"You've got a tan," he said. "Bermuda?"
"Arizona. I went to visit my father. He's retired out there."
"The primary tradition of baseball," somebody was saying near
them, "is pastoral."
"Jesus, look, let me get you a drink. Where have you been —
what's — "
"Oh, England for a while, you know." Joan frowned into her
purse, which was made of light tan leather and looked sort of Ari-
122 zona. "Do you have a cigarette? Scotch. Well, it was New York for
a — just water — and then I seem to have gotten married — "
"Oh," said Miles. Well that was that.
"But it didn't take. Ended. Then East, and now I've got this
offer here."
"Here," he said. Could start again. It could.
"It's not too far from Windsor, is it?" she smiled directly into his
Agan. The wildness.
"About an hour," he said. Did she know he was married again —
"Do you ever hear from Myron or the others—" Miles began,
and now they were being crowded next to the bar and were suddenly now very close. How well remembered. How much lost.
"He's into folkrock," someone said near them. "Very heavy."
"I saw Myron at MLA," Joan Ut her cigarette. "He told me
you'd gotten married again."
"Yes, yes, well —"
"If you make a mistake, why not do it big?" she smiled.
"Well it's not a mistake this time, at least I hope — But where
have you been?"
"I told you. London — "
"I don't mean places. I mean personally — "
She raised a shoulder in a who knows gesture and with a swift
twitch of her lips said it all. Who knew, what did it matter, it was
all past, water under various bridges, water over several dams.
"McLuhan model," someone said near them. "Actually post-
McLuhan — "
"Do I still have to think of everything," her voice was low but he
heard every word.
"No," he said. "Not this time."
"Aren't there papers you want to hear?"
"Just the one on Krazy Kat, but I'll read it when it's published.
Are you with anybody?"
She slipped her arm under his.
It was the same, exactly the same. As if none of the years between,
the waste sad time, none of it had ever happened. He watched the
early afternoon light shimmer on the windshields of the cars coming
towards them. Not a good time to come to a motel. Suspicions
aroused. Better later, when people on trips were actually stopping
for the day. But he couldn't manage for too much later. Laurel
123 expected him home from the conference tonight. Besides. If a guy
ran a motel, he knew the score.
"Luggage in the car," Miles said casually as he signed the register, hesitated over address, put 170 Bay, Toronto, wondered if he
should change a digit in the licence number, decided not to, guy
might check.
"Better pay in advance," Miles said. "Get an early start, on the
road pretty early — "
The man hardly glanced at him. Gave him the key. It was so
easy. It had been so long. Another country.
"Play the radio," Joan said. "I'll be right out."
"There doesn't seem to be one," Miles called through the door.
"Just a TV."
Maybe one of the channels was radio. He flipped channels. Soap
operas, serious voices talking about love, death, divorce, as if it
mattered a lot in the daytime. The Three Stooges. He remembered
this one. They were waiters in a rich man's house.
"No music?"
Joan was right next to him, gazing at the screen. Moe, or who
ever the guy with bangs was — have to check on it — had stuck a
pencil in the bald one's nose and was leading him away. Miles
turned, touched her shoulders, she said darling in his ear, her hair
was in his face, and then they were on the bed, still with clothes on,
kissing. Miles imagined them as they had been, almost twenty years
before, a ghostly boy just losing his summer tan and a girl fresh
from her job at an advertising agency, bright and sardonic, standing
together next to the bed, perhaps smiling in gentle amusement at
these guilty forty year olds so passionately tangled.
During the six o'clock news they took off the rest of their clothes.
He kept going soft. Skin felt like plasticene. What was wrong. He
lay back. Joan bent and put his penis in her mouth. Ah, that was
it — She lay back, he lay on top again, plunged once, twice, she
gasped, he was going soft again. He lay back.
Interdict, the TV murmured, search and destroy.
She slipped down between his thighs and began to suck in
earnest. Miles looked down at the blonde head bobbing, the eyelids
lowered, a kind of thoughtful expression in her eyes. Her hand on
the root of his penis. Rings gleamed. Such a large stone. Topaz?
Could it be real? Ah. Now. Now. She lay back quickly, he rolled
with her. A drop of spittle gleamed at the corner of her mouth.
124 Robbed for the third time, the TV murmured. Beaten and —
It took only four plunges this time and Miles was finished. Joan
was still high up there. He could reciprocate, so she could finish —
But he didn't feel up to it.
Cancer, the TV said.
The late afternoon sun gleamed on Joan's sunglasses in the parking lot. She got out swiftly, with that old easy grace, and then
paused next to the door.
"You can let me know if you take the job," Miles said.
Her face was set in a neutral mask. Her sunglasses glared into his
"I'll let you know," she said.
Miles watched her walk to her car. Good legs. Great legs. And
that magnificent ass. He began to get an erection. Now what the
hell was he supposed to do.
"How's the sewer business," said Keith. They were walking out
of the building. Miles frowned in the later autumn sun.
"I'm out of that now. I got to thinking about it — the whole
thing. You know that cycle I was telling you about, that biological
process thing?"
"The mercaptions and all? Sure," said Keith. "Listen, do you
remember this line from a song? It really doesn't matter anymore?"
"Well, in a funny way, the process is like — uh, it's Holly, his last
song, actually."
"What was it called?" said Keith, turning to look at a girl in a
red mini skirt.
"That was the title. It Doesn't Matter Anymore. Anyhow, the
sewer thing. I got to thinking that in a kind of funny way the process was like the cycle of life and death. And I wanted something
dead and safe you see."
"Yes," Miles said. "You can't find death even in a sewer. I don't
know where to look anymore."
"Can't be zeppelins," Keith said. "Let's get a beer."
"No thanks, I have to get home."
As Miles walked home, new sentences formed in his mind: In
Peggy Sue, Holly experimented with rollercoaster variations in pitch
125 — Maybe it wasn't too late for him after aU. Rebirth. New promise.
And if Joan took the job. Of course, she was getting older.
Still. He observed with no protest the sunset behind the Ambassador Bridge. Beautiful. Fleecy clouds hung with red-gold sulphides
and iron pyrites. The river shivered in steely waves, rippling in
higher and higher coliform counts. As the evening drew on, the
incinerator on the Detroit side opened its draft wider and a shower
of cinders wafted on the quickening breeze.
It's become October,
a chill
palpable & seamless as grass.
Farther than I can walk to keep
up with the drift,
loose clumps of geese gather
in wedges overhead & pass
on, dissolving southward.
Along the ridge a steady rain
of leaves,
their long vagrant fall
cut short by the swell of the hill.
The aspens are soaked.
The earth smells sour.
In this season I am
haunted by the sense of coal:
its broad particular stress into
seams,    its slow
My breath abuts the wind &
coheres.    It's that cold.
Underfoot the leaves seethe
as they unravel
but I'm in no hurry.
I tromp home heavy-footed,    over drifts,
through the aspen grove,
like a thin man
planting diamonds.
Stephen Tapscott was raised on a farm in Iowa and now lives in Ithaca, New
127 W. D. Valgardson's work has appeared in The Best American Short Stories
1971, Stories From Western Canada and numerous literary periodicals. He was
the Bridgman Scholar at Breadloaf for 1972.
As each man entered the cookshack, he dragged a chair from the
table, sat down and began to fill his plate from the platters of food
that were set out. Harold Wolk, a short, sinewy man of fifty, with
small, close set eyes and a narrow chin, took three fried eggs, then
as he reached for a fourth, ignored his boss's glare of disapproval
and said, "Valdi, you've got a visitor."
Valdi Gudmundson, the camp owner, was watching his wife,
Runa, pack the lines of black lunch buckets with sandwiches. He
went to the side window and looked out but there was nothing to
see that was not ordinarily there — the beetle shaped bombadier
under its tattered covering of black plastic, a mound of hay bales,
the wood pile, the yellow tractor. Except for the area beside the
woodpile which was covered with a deep layer of sawdust, the
ground had been churned to mud that had frozen into deep ruts.
Where the sun touched them, the trees were yellow and red, but
below that ragged band of colour, the shadows were thick and solid.
"Where? I don't see anyone," he replied with annoyance. He was
large and husky but his skin was pale with a grey cast to it around
his eyes and mouth.
"Beside the door," Harold said, waving his fork. "There's an
Valdi eyed Harold suspiciously, as though expecting a joke at his
expense. "What does he want?"
Harold shrugged. "We didn't stop to talk."
Valdi studied the other four men who were hunched over their
plates. They were too busy eating to speak, but two of them confirmed Harold's statement by nodding. Valdi went back to the
128 counter. Runa set each plaid thermos into its lunch bucket, then
snapped the lids shut. While they were still chewing the last of their
breakfast, the men hurried out.
Runa cleared the table, then poured herself a cup of coffee. She
was twenty-five, fifteen years younger than her husband. She was
pretty, with a smooth well-tanned skin, moss green eyes and blond
hair that she wore in a single braid down her back. As she sat at the
table, she rolled four cigarettes, put three into her shirt pocket and
lit one.
"I wonder what he wants," Valdi said. A fly, roused by the heat
from the stove, began to bang stupidly against the window pane.
Valdi stood, killed it with the flick of a dish towel, then leaned
against the window. The angle was too great for him to see if anyone was still there.
Valdi took the dishpan and threw the dirty water outside. As he
did so, he looked over the Indian who was still squatting beside the
door. He was young, no older than twenty-one or two and had skin
the colour of light caramel. He had strong features — a high forehead, smooth dark hair, heavy eyebrows and a mouth that was a
little too large to allow him to be handsome.
"What do you want?" Valdi demanded.
"Work." The Indian's voice was so quiet that it was barely
audible. Having glanced at Valdi, he looked away, as though to
create a great distance between them as they talked.
"Why did you come here?"
"I heard you had a man injured."
It was true. One of Valdi's men had crushed his hand two days
Valdi studied the breadth of his shoulders, his leanness, his olive
bedroll, his battered suitcase held together with twine. His denim
jacket, jeans and red flannel shirt were old but clean and his work
boots were shiny new.
"You fished before?"
"On Great Slave."
"Not here?"
He shook his head.
"Who'd you fish for?"
"Jack Simondson. Fusi Bergman."
Valdi caught his lower lip between his thumb and index finger
and drew it out. He desperately needed another man. In another
day, the fish in the injured man's nets would begin to rot.
129 "What's your name?"
"Elliot Household."
"I don't usually hire Indians."
Elliot's face was impassive. Runa appeared in the doorway behind her husband. The sun had risen above the trees but the light it
gave off was thin and weak.
"You think you can catch fish?"
Valdi pulled at his lip. "No wages," he said, finally. "Seventy
percent for us, thirty for you. You get your money when the nets
are on shore the last day of the season. Board and room."
"All right."
The proposal was so unfair that to cover up his surprise at the
ready agreement, Valdi walked brusquely to the storage shed next
to the cookshack. Elliot rose and followed him. There were no windows so Valdi left the door open to give them light. Winter fishing
equipment was strewn about.
"You can clean yourself a place. There's cots and mattresses in
back." At the door, he turned and said, "You keep your hands off
the supplies in the back."
When he returned to the kitchen, Valdi sat at the table, his eyes
locked on a dead birch.
Runa was knitting and her slender fingers flashed in a steady
rhythm. The click of the needles was so regular that there seemed
to be no pause. Even when her attention was elsewhere, her hands
moved automatically. She knitted heavy woollen mittens for the
winter fishermen. Valdi resented her having to make the mittens
but they needed the money too badly for him to say anything.
She did not ask what was bothering him. Before a heart attack
had put him in the hospital for three months the year before, he
had been even tempered, but since then, he brooded constantly,
sometimes refusing to speak for days at a time. Without warning,
he would erupt in fits of violent temper.
At last, he said, "That Indian's a liar. His hands haven't got a
callous on them." He twisted agitatedly in the chair. "Get a lunch
ready for him."
Twenty minutes later, Valdi was on the lake with ElUot in the
stern. Valdi sat backwards in the bow, watching every move Elliot
Elliot handled the twenty-two foot skiff skillfully and when they
reached the first buoy with its red bloat and white, numbered flag,
130 he eased alongside, grasped the pole and held onto it as he and
Valdi changed places. He gathered the lines and began to pull the
boat along, hand over hand, in the direction of the second buoy
which marked the far end of the gang of nets.
The lake was silent and still, a great flat surface as faded as a
blanket laundered until its colour is nearly lost. The boat, jerked
forward hand over hand, repeatedly shattered its own white image.
Less than half a mile away, a series of small crescents and points,
the colour of ripened wheat were smoothly fastened to the water.
Farther back, a line of frost-burned trees pressed darkly together.
When EUiot reached the far buoy, he had half a dozen fish.
Three of these were small, silver sunfish of no value. Elliot rinsed
his hands in the cold water and after briskly rubbing them on his
pants, asked, "Where now?"
When they reached an area half a mile to the north, Valdi drew
a grappling iron and coil of rope from a fish box beneath the seat.
He dropped the grappling iron overboard. Following Valdi's directions, Elliot ran the boat back and forth parallel to the shore. On
their third pass, the rope went taut and Elliot turned off the motor.
Once again, he and Valdi changed places. As Elliot hauled in the
rope, a dark line of corks broke the nearby surface. Catching the
net, he freed the grapple, then lifted the mesh until the lead line
appeared. He spread one square of mesh with his thumb and index
"Two and a quarter inches," he said.
"What is it?" Valdi demanded, shielding his eyes with his cupped
hand. His eyes looked sore and red. "You want to fish on shares for
that?" He waved his pale hand contemptuously at the fish which
flapped dispiritedly on the bottom of the boat.
It was a poor catch. Reluctantly, Elliot began lifting. In the first
two fathoms there were five pickerel.
"Some difference?" Valdi asked, hooking two fingers into a
pickerel's gills and holding it up so that its green, iridescent back
sparkled in the sun. "Forty cents a pound for those," he said slyly.
"A man could make a little money. We've got sixteen gangs of ten
nets of small mesh. You get two gangs. Don't let anything happen
to them. I had to borrow on my camp to buy them."
After Valdi showed Elliot where the other gang of small mesh
was and pointed out the legal nets, ElUot took him back to shore.
Then he returned and finished lifting.
Supper was eaten in silence. The men never were talkative, but
I3I Elliot's presence made the silence constrained and awkward. While
the men ate, Runa carried in firewood for the cookstove and filled
the water barrel by carrying water from the lake. Normally, she
would have had a cookee to do the chores, but this year, to save
money, she did them herself.
Throughout the week, while the weather deteriorated, the catch
increased. What started as a light breeze increased steadily until
large, grey waves crashed along the shore and the air was filled with
cold, hard spray.
On Sunday, at the supper table, Harold broke the silence long
enough to say, "There's still sign of that damn sunfish. Every day
I've been getting five pounds more than the last. With that wind
from the south, we could get a run and then we'd be in a hell of a
Valdi had noticed the sunfish but because he was afraid of missing even one day's catch, he did not want the nets pulled. "We
leave the nets in. It's too late in the season for sunfish."
"We keep getting signs," Harold persisted, shaking his scrawny
finger at Valdi.
Valdi ignored him.
The next morning, the clouds were low and black and they
travelled very fast in ragged sections. Blowing furiously, the wind
swept everything before it. While the others played cards, Elliot,
dressed in bulky rubber pants and jacket, his face obscured by a
black, wide brimmed hat tied beneath his chin, clambered down to
the dock.
Counting the seconds between the waves, he waited, then, as the
seventh wave broke, he raced down the dock through ankle deep
water and jumped into his open boat. Ignoring the sheets of spray
that swept over him, he started the engine and drove the boat
straight into the waves. Late in the day when he returned, his boat
was half-full of water and his nets were crammed in tight piles
between the seats.
As Elliot carried his nets to the sheltered side of the storage shed,
Valdi said to Runa, "Bloody stupid Indian. What does he tliink he's
doing? He could have swamped and lost everything."
The next day the lake was whipped to a frenzy. Elliot, after making a crude shelter from fish boxes, began to spread and clean his
nets. After lunch, Runa came outside to split wood. The axe head
was too heavy and the handle too long so that she swung awk-
132 wardly, twice striking glancing blows that nearly drove the blade
into her leg.
Runa was startled when Elliot reached from behind her to grasp
the handle. She released the axe and turned toward him. Her face
was pink from the wind and her breathing was heavy and fast from
her exertion. Each time she breathed out, her nostrils flared and her
breasts, under her nylon windbreaker, rose and fell noticeably.
"I'll do that," he said. He set a block on end and split it with one
blow. With quick, sure strokes, he cut each half into three parts. He
picked up the pieces and piled them into her arms.
Unused to favours, she did not know what to say. They stood,
looking at each other for another moment, but then Runa saw
Valdi watching them and scurried away. Elliot turned his back on
Valdi and, during the next two hours, split enough stove wood to
last for a week.
Two days later when the wind stopped, all the hired men left
before dawn and sat impatiently over their nets until there was
enough light for them to see. The storm had brought them fish.
Every net sagged with the weight of the catch, but the pickerel
were gone. Sunfish clogged the nets. Many were as small as a man's
hand, all head and spine. Doggedly, the men worked until it was
too dark to see. The nets were so laden that they could not even be
pulled into the boats and taken to shore. Their arms and backs
aching, their hands raw with puncture wounds from the spines of
dorsal fins, the men came to supper so exhausted they could hardly
Elliot had spent the day leisurely bagging his nets so they could
be set in shallow water.
That evening when Valdi and Runa were alone, Elliot knocked
on the door. "I need a package of tobacco and a pen knife," he
said. "I'll set tomorrow."
Valdi brought both items and put them on Elliot's bill. When the
door was shut, he said, mimicking Elliot's voice. "He'll set tomorrow. That is," he added sarcastically, "if he doesn't decide to spend
all his time doing chores for you."
For the next four days, the hired men did nothing but clear sunfish from their nets. With the return of calm weather, unseasonably
warm temperatures set in and with them, all sign of fish disappeared. Everyone came back empty-handed except Elliot. He always caught fish, sometimes as much as half a box. The resentment
felt over the sunfish turned to bitterness.
133 One night after Elliot had left with a package of Export makings
and a key chain, Harold said to the others. "You know what he does
with that stuff? I watched him with my binoculars."
His narrow lips were angrily clamped shut and his chin was
thrust out. "He throws them into the water, that's what." When he
saw they were skeptical, he became annoyed and his voice rose
"I'm telling you. I saw him. He sits in the bow, studying the
water, then he throws whatever he's got and sprinkles out the
tobacco. If you don't believe me, then you explain what he wants
with tobacco when he doesn't smoke." He jabbed his finger at one,
then another. "Have you seen him smoke? Have you?"
"So what?" Valdi asked. "He catches fish, doesn't he? Maybe you
should try it."
"That's not all he's caught," Harold shot back. His feelings,
already raw from returning day after day with a poor catch, were
hurt by Valdi's comment. "He's made more than wages already.
He caught himself a fish when he got you to hire him on shares.
Every time he pulls a fish out, you're losing money." He laughed
nastily. "Valdi Gudmundson being taken by an Indian. I never
thought I'd see the day." Before Valdi had a chance to reply,
Harold stomped out.
Valdi brooded. Harold's words had particularly hurt because
Valdi had been thinking much the same thing himself. Until he
had his heart attack, he regularly brought in more than twice as
much as any of his hired men. Now, any real exertion nearly
strangled him with pain.
"I'd like to fire that Indian," he confided to Runa, watching her
from the corner of his eye to see if she showed any signs of caring.
During his long convalescence, their love making had virtually
stopped. Certain of her unfulfilled desire, he was afraid of losing
her. She shrugged indifferently. "But I can't. He's the only one
making us any money." He swept his pale hand across the table as
though sweeping away crumbs. "I've got to keep him."
During the next few days, he tried to think of some way to just
pay Elliot wages, but everything he planned left Elliot free to go to
the mounties or fish inspectors about the illegal nets. He was leaning
morosely on the counter watching the lake when Harold, who had
come in for a cup of coffee, said, "You'd better watch that Indian.
I think he's out for more than fish."
Before Valdi could ask for an explanation, Runa came in. She
!34 had been searching for dried heads of grass. During the winter, she
made centrepieces which she then sold in the spring to some gift
shops in town.
Harold studied her disapprovingly, then said, "I guess I'd better
be going. I've got some nets to repair. Not that it matters much
when you don't have some witchery to help you."
"Wait a minute," Valdi replied, hurrying to get up. "I've got
some things to do. I'll come along."
When they were out of Runa's hearing, Valdi demanded, "Is
there something between that Indian and Runa?"
Harold shrugged. "I didn't say that, but she was gone a long
time for such a little bit of grass." He saw that Valdi was furious so
he quickly added, "Maybe it's nothing. Runa wouldn't have anything to do with him anyway."
When Valdi returned to the cookshack, he could not resist going
to the counter to look at the grasses Runa was sorting. There was
less than half a basketful.
"Didn't get much," he said, watching her closely. She was a good
looking girl. She was nicely rounded and had good legs. He plucked
a piece of grass from the back of her sweater.
She twisted her head to see what he was doing. "Brush me off,"
she said. "Crawling around in the bush, everything sticks to you."
"Was it worth it?" He ran his hand over her back and realized
that she did not have on a brassiere. Running his hand up and
down between her shoulder blades excited him.
With a twitch of her shoulders, she pulled away. "Does it look
like it?"
Valdi watched her closely after that, but saw nothing suspicious.
Still, he was not satisfied. Afraid that he might be missing something, he began staying awake as long as he could to be sure Runa
fell asleep before he did. Sometimes, he leaned over and peered
closely into her face to be sure she was not faking. When he slept,
he was so tense that the light thump of a squirrel landing on the
roof was enough to wake him.
During the fishing season, the only regular visitor to the camp
was the driver of the truck which picked up the fish and sometimes
brought supplies. He was nineteen years old, skinny, and had acne.
One day, after he was finished loading, he gave Valdi a letter.
"That's for that Indian who works for you," he said. "You be
sure he gets it."
Valdi held the envelope against the window, but he could not
135 make out any words. The return address was the Correctional Services Branch of the Manitoba Government.
"Do you know what it is?"
"I don't know if I'm supposed to say anything," the kid answered
self-importantly and cracked a knuckle. "It might be confidential."
"He works for me, doesn't he. I guess I got a right to know."
The kid popped another knuckle. "He got in a fight and knifed
some guy. He was in jail for a year but they let him out on parole
because he was going loony. He couldn't stand being locked up. He
tried to kill himself. That's to tell him to check back in with his
parole officer at the end of the season."
When Elliot came off the lake, Valdi met him outside the cook-
shack and gave him the letter.
"You knifed somebody, I heard."
"He started it," Elliot replied.
"How come they put you in jafl then?"
Elliot walked away. Valdi, emboldened by Elliot's retreat, pressed
close behind him. "How come?" he demanded.
Elliot turned on him. His dark face, normally so expressionless,
was filled with hatred. He made a sharp, threatening motion with
his left hand and Valdi instinctively stepped back.
"He was a white man," ElUot spit out. "In Manitoba, who ever
believes an Indian?"
When Elliot was gone, the door shut behind him, a sense of reUef
swept through Valdi.
The next day when Elliot was on the lake, Valdi went into the
storage shed. There was not much to see. In the cleared space there
was an iron cot, a bedroll, a suitcase and an empty coke bottle.
Valdi searched the suitcase but found only extra clothing. What he
had hoped to find were the receipts which Elliot had for the fish he
had caught. Without them, he could not prove how much Valdi
owed him.
He returned to the kitchen but could not concentrate on his game
of solitaire. Throwing down the cards, he said, "Five hundred dollars is what he's got coming now. That's a lot of money."
He slouched in the chair and resentfully drummed his fingers on
the table. "If I don't pay him, he could cause trouble but the season
is over in a week. We'll be pulling up the nets anyway, then if we
got them out of here, it would be his word against ours. If he was
scared of going back to jail. ..." He let the thought hang in the
air. "Five hundred dollars. You could use some of it for new clothes.
136 You haven't had anything new in a long time." He rubbed his hand
over his mouth. "He watches you all the time. Did you know that?"
"They all watch me," Runa rephed indifferently. She scattered
flour across the counter and began rolling out dough for crusts. The
morning sun glistened on the light, golden hair which covered the
backs of her arms.
He cleared his throat. "Say you played up to him a little."
She quit rolling dough and stood absolutely stiU. Before the silence
could stretch out, he quickly added, "Just say he did try something.
Not much. Anything would do. And you yelled rape. There'd be
lots of witnesses."
He saw she was annoyed, but he refused to give up. "He wouldn't
get to do anything, you know. I'd be close by."
"So the mounties arrest him and they collect his wages. Or his
parole officer does. Good thinking," Runa said, her voice tight with
"No, no. Say he got away. Accidentally. He'd run as far as he
could and never come back."
"No," she replied vehemently.
"Why not?"
"I don't want any part of it. We'll get by."
"It's five hundred dollars," he insisted. He lowered his voice.
"Five hundred. That would carry us until winter fishing starts. I've
got those nets to pay for, too, you know."
That evening, Runa tried to stay as far away from Elliot as possible, but Valdi glared at her until she moved closer to him. With
the other men watching, the most she could do was lean close to put
his dessert on the table.
When the men were gone, Valdi told her to go get something
from the storage shed.
She hurried into the storage shed, picked up a skein of wool and
hurried out.
"Why didn't you yell?" Valdi demanded.
"He didn't do anything."
For the rest of the week, Runa refused to co-operate, but then, on
the next Monday, when she was collecting an armload of wood, she
overheard Valdi and Harold talking on the other side of the woodpile.
"I don't know," Harold was saying. "It's risky."
"Fifty dollars. You should do it for nothing, the way you feel
about him. It's got to look like an accident."
137 Not wanting to hear any more, Runa crept away.
An hour after supper, Runa took the water pail and went out,
but instead of going to the shore, she put the pail down and entered
the storage shed. EUiot was lying on his cot. She went to the back
and pretended to search for something in the dark. In a minute, he
joined her, holding up a lamp so she could see.
His face was smooth and his eyes seemed larger than ever. The
muscles on either side of his neck stood out like taut ropes on either
side of the hollow of his throat.
"What are you looking for?" he asked in his soft voice.
Runa ran her hand down the front of her blouse, pulling the
buttons loose. Catching the material with both hands, she pulled it
aside. She took his free hand and pulled him down. He rested the
lamp on a sack of flour.
After that, he was urgent, demanding. It was over in five minutes.
When he released her, she sat up and leaned against a pile of
sacks. Neither one moved until they heard the cook-shack door
bang. As if on a signal, Runa screamed. Elliot was so startled that,
at first, he simply stared. She screamed again.
"I'm coming," Valdi yelled. A voice from the direction of the
bunkhouse wanted to know what was the matter.
Elliot sprang to his feet and bolted for the door. He crashed into
Valdi and they both plunged off the steps. ElUot tried to pull free,
but Valdi held his legs. He hit Valdi twice, just over the right eye
and Valdi let go, but it was too late. Before Elliot could do more
than stand, the hired men swarmed over him, pummelling him
senseless. When he no longer moved, they stopped and left him
curled on his side, his face in the dirt.
Runa came to the door and Valdi said, "What happened?"
^/"Vir£ ^O RlO Earle    -| can't help feeling sort of proud
A. =" Rirnm/ its We whove done il
AOOUl Dimey done it aM in four generations
made organic death at last
an irreversible reaction
& finished the Original Plan
before 1984"
What's So Big About GREEN?
\     McCLELLAND & STEWART/ The Canadian Publishers
\. At Good Bookstores Everywhere $3.50 pa.
i38 Instead of replying, she ran past them to the cookhouse.
They carried Elliot inside and dumped him on his bed.
"We'll watch him," Harold volunteered. The knuckles of his left
hand were badly scraped and he kept sucking at them to get out the
"No. I'll watch him." Harold was going to protest but Valdi
silenced him by saying, "It was my wife." He clenched his fist
suggestively. "He and I can talk about things while we wait."
"O.K." Harold smiled. "If you need help, we're close."
Valdi took up his position in the doorway. After half an hour, he
heard Elliot moving. He waited awhile longer, then went around
the far corner of the cookshack and waited. Elliot painfully let himself down the steps. His bedroll was over one shoulder and he carried
his suitcase. He tried to run but his run was stumbUng and, with
each step, his body twisted in pain.
Valid went into the cookhouse. Runa was knitting, her face
rigidly set.
"You allright?" Valdi asked.
"Yes," she replied. She did not look up.
"I didn't think you'd do it. I thought maybe you liked him." She
continued to knit. "You didn't though, did you?" he said with
In the morning, over breakfast, he told the others that he had
fallen asleep and that Elliot had run away. He gave them all ten
dollars for their help. He gave Harold the fifty dollars to lift ElUot's
When the men were gone, he sat at the corner of the table where
the sunlight warmed him. Half an hour went by, then Runa said,
"There's a boat coming. It looks like Harold's."
Valdi pushed himself to his feet and hurried to the dock. Harold
pulled alongside and, in his excitement, did not even bother to tie
up. Instead, he grabbed a net and held it over his head.
"The big mesh is o.k.," he shouted, but look." The net had been
cut to pieces. Even the cork and lead lines were beyond repair.
Unable to comprehend what had happened, Valdi grabbed the
net and said, "Someone ran through it with their boat."
"No, it was that Indian. They're all like this."
Valdi kept feeling the net, rubbing the shredded parts between
his fingers. "I'll call the mounties," he said, his voice still weak and
ineffectual with shock. He pulled at the net and a piece of mesh
came loose. As if he suddenly was able to grasp the seriousness of
139 what had happened, he shook the net and shouted at Harold's thin
face, "I'll caU the mounties. They'll put him in jail for ten years."
"You can't," Harold replied and his eyes slid from Valdi's face to
the tattered net.
Valdi held the net close and pulled at it so fiercely that he might
have been trying to make each small square larger, but the nylon
would not stretch. Instead, it cut cruelly into the soft, white flesh of
his hands.
From the doorstep of the cookhouse, Runa watched her husband
climb into Harold's boat and in half an hour when she came back
out, her husband and the boat were only a dark speck bobbing in
the distance. She lifted a suitcase with each hand, and without a
backward glance, started down the dark ruts that led to the gravel
highway south.
140 Irene Friedman was born in the Russian Urals in 1944 and lived in several
countries before coming to Canada at 15. She has just completed her graduate
studies at McGill and is now a student in the Creative Writing Department at
the University of British Columbia. Her work (poetry, fiction, and criticism)
has appeared in various literary publications and over the C.B.C.
It's a bad sign, pigeons starting to get on a man's nerves.
Last month, the beginning of spring, their cooing would get me
out of bed every morning and wouldn't stop throughout the day.
I'd try to shut out the noise with the radio, the typewriter, but before
I knew it, I'd be on the balcony chasing them away again with
violent gestures.
Then they must have stopped because I'd forgotten all about
them the other day when I went outside to read. But suddenly, the
two forgotten pigeons scuffled from the corner and flew away,
settling on the roof across. I watched them watching me while picking up the folded sun chair from the floor. Then I saw it.
Slowly — as though my eyes were willing it to move — one of
two white eggs was rolling toward the balcony's edge, rolling off,
and crashing on the pavement below. My hand had reached out as
soon as the egg had left the wooden plank and was still suspended
in the air after I'd heard the sound below. And at once it came, the
thought: You could've stopped it; you could've stopped it with a
movement of your eyes, almost. You hated the pigeons, you did.
Then, there was anger. It shook my insides and got down to my
knees. And it wasn't because of the accident — it must have been
an accident! — it was for the egg left behind. It was that it remained behind — white and defiant where there had been two of
them before.
Everything fell out of focus then. I saw countless eggs lying before
me. And, stiU shaking, I picked up the chair and brought it down.
Again and again. Like someone continuing to batter a body already
dead, I was still hitting with the chair long after the second egg
141 crashed below, long after the nest's straw was scattered in all directions. Then, as suddenly, I stopped, my breath loud and heavy. I
raised my head and saw the two pigeons still staring at me from
the roof across, raising their wings and bringing them down, again
and again.
The anger turned to resentment: Why my balcony? Why mine,
with all the others empty most of the time? I've tried to chase you
away. I've tried. I've tried.
There was even indignation then. As though somehow I'd been
outwitted by the pigeons. As though for a few days they had remained silent to fool me into thinking they had finally flown away
so they could build their nest.
The pigeons huddled close to each other and continued to stare.
I met their eyes briefly, but at once looked away and went inside to
stand watching hidden behind the curtains. The pigeons returned
to the balcony then. They hopped from corner to corner, their
heads moving in little jerks from one side to the other. Still hiding,
I told myself that pigeons naturally had this bewildered look about
them. I reasoned that it was no different from removing the eggs a
chicken had laid. But the pigeons continued to hop all over the
balcony with the same look of non-comprehension.
Only when they had every square inch of the balcony covered
several times, did the pigeons fly away. Still I remained at the
window waiting for something to happen. Something had to
happen, I knew. I wanted to go back and get the book I'd left
behind, but felt a reluctance that was almost fear. I saw the two of
them return then, and without pausing, set about picking whatever
straw was left, gathering it into the building of a new nest.
Later that night, there came to me in a dream a story I'd read as
SEX 81
Al Purdy
"Behind me in the mountain pass another man
stumbles among rocks and stars
he knows about me and I know about him
we plan to get together sometime
then have a word with you"
McCLELLAND & STEWART / The Canadian Publishers
At Good Bookstores Everywhere $6.95 cl. $3.50 pa.
142 a child. About a man who ordered that all the birds in his garden
be killed, and about the terrible silence when he could no longer
hear them chirping. In the morning, I remembered how I'd
imagined him when I was a child: big, porous nose, unblinking
eyes, and a giant's feet stepping through an exquisite garden — an
ugly, unhappy man.
The anger was gone and now there is only this new fear: Am I
becoming that kind of man?
It's been a bad spring. Day after day, coming from work, I've sat
at my window and stared at the lights in the distance. The night
before the egg incident, an old song had come to me, of a sailor lost
at sea, guided through the night by a lighthouse which he knew did
not exist on the shore. It amuses me to think that years ago, the song
had never failed to move me. Trouble is that not only is a lighthouse seldom there when a storm comes, but it doesn't even exist
wherever the sailor found it. Not so far as I can see.
That same night, a couple had stopped below my window, she
placing her hand on his shoulder as though to say something of
sudden importance. But as I'd watched them, a huge pink bubble
had come out of her mouth, then burst, while both of them had
bent down overcome with giggles.
How long has it been since / laughed with bubble gum?
Something is happening to me. It's happened before so I know.
And the pigeons are all the proof I need. When I was a child, spring
had always meant a green mountain. Unhappiness then was a soon-
forgotten interlude between joys. Now, it's the other way, it seems.
Take those eggs: one sudden blow and they crashed (I found the
fragile white remains by the garage today), and it's all over. And
they couldn't even know, the pigeons, that the hand would suddenly
be there to destroy them. And we, what do we know? And where
do we find the strength to start over again, I ask myself.
I'd thought I had it. I'd thought I was ready for a kind of rebirth,
you might say, on being discharged from hospital last year as an
"unsuccessful suicide."
I remember, after shaving my beard off that last day in my
hospital room, standing for some time in front of the mirror and
thinking I should be feeling naked. But the dark eyes which had
always seemed to me like those of a madman engaged in some hopeless battle, and the tight-lipped mouth which could never decide
143 between bitterness and derision, seemed more calm and anonymous
with the beard off. I think they might have been relaxed by all
those tranquilizers I'd been fed, but at the time I felt pleased with
the pale, hollow-cheeked reflection: it was only vaguely familiar.
Apart from the drugs, it must've been the room itself that made
it all seem possible, somehow. Something about its perfect whiteness, its bareness, made me think of the cemetery where mother is.
The stillness too. It was only occasionally broken by a cough from
the next room, or the voice of a nurse, or the clicking of dishes on
food trays, but it was heavy in its silence. I thought of the infinite
number of white, neatly-cut gravestones scattered in the cemetery
— cold and bare and silent — and the silence exploding, bursting
with inscriptions, with whispered names, with prayers. I thought of
mother dying. I looked at the bed, newly covered with white crisp
sheets, ready to be twisted around another sweating body before
going down to the laundry to be purified of perspiration, or drugs,
of bloodstains. I wondered how many times that bed had been
changed. The air too was clean and fresh: one drop out of a green
bottle instantly cleared any foul smell, every trace of the impure, so
that in a moment it was the air of a room never used. . ..
I wanted out. I wanted air that was really fresh and people who
were well and sheets that had never been stained with blood. A new
beginning. And I thought then that maybe it was possible, and I
thought of mother and decided I would go at once and visit her
But when I got through the front door, the familiar struggle
began all over again. I still wanted to go, yes. But now I asked
myself (as I had done so often before) what was the point of going.
A stone was all there was anyway. It's Uke going to church, I told
myself. You don't have to go to church to find God. If you happen
to be a believer, that is. Anyway, the whole idea of people beginning to cry and pray only when they get to the grave seems absurd
to me. Even if you are a believer, there's nothing below the stone
but rotting bones. People are such fools, it strikes me over and over
again. Such unthinking fools. And sometimes you fall into the trap
of doing things their way just because it's all around you. But that
day I decided I was not about to start doing pointless things. So,
although I felt drawn toward it, I didn't go to the cemetery that
day, and haven't since.
144 I often think of mother, though. For the past two days, I can't
get those pigeons out of my mind. And they seem to bring back all
sorts of long-forgotten things. I remember painting eggs at Easter
with mother. I was seven, I think, and the egg I painted was red
and blue and I was, I remember, terribly pleased with the colours
and with myself when it was finished. And then, just as I was about
to put it away, it slipped through my fingers, the red and blue pattern shattered on the floor like the glass of a church window broken
by a straying ball.
I can't concentrate on anything since that incident. I see eggs
everywhere. I've thrown half a dozen perfectly good eggs into the
garbage; still I can't get myself to do a thing. It's beginning to feel
like last year before the hospital. Winters are always easier to cope
with somehow. You curse the cold and the snow and are grateful
just to be where it's warm. Spring always brings out the lovers, all
of them seeming to take my street wherever it is they are going.
My relationships with women never last long. Either I'm bored
with them from the start or, more often, they run away from me
with horror or disgust or both. I'm gentle enough with them, and
even treat them with great consideration, going to great lengths to
please them. Still, it doesn't take them long to discover they'd better
get away as fast as they can. And they do, leaving me only the
satisfaction of feeling that I'd been right about myself after aU.
I've gone so far as to tell some of them from the beginning —
warn them, as it were — that I was a little mad. But of course, my
charming manners have always led them to dismiss my warnings,
saying that they preferred madmen to bores, or something to that
effect. Well, it always turns out that mine isn't their type of madness, the madness they prefer to being bored, that is. And I don't
blame them. I, least of all.
I know, for example, that I shouldn't tell them I've had a gun in
my mouth several times, withdrawing at the last moment. It's alright, I know, to talk about your suicidal moments, the moments of
contemplating the possibiUty of suicide. Those are acceptable. In
fact, everyone is supposed to have them occasionally (sometimes I
think it's become fashionable to have them). But I know that it's in
bad taste to tell these girls about actually having had the gun in my
mouth. I know that from the moment they hear it, they're on their
guard with me (do they think I might use it on them, I wonder)
and yet, perversely, in spite of countless resolutions to the contrary,
145 I do it each time I get just beyond a simple acquaintance with a
girl. And if not that, something equally distasteful.
I lie awake nights thinking about it every time it happens, alternately blaming women for being such a shallow lot, and myself for
having done it again. I remember then that dealing with men is
just as difficult. And, sometimes, it seems to me that everyone else is
at fault, not realizing their own weaknesses, their petty stupidities,
their cowardice. But sooner or later I accept the responsibility, and
that's when things really begin to get out of hand.
If a woman hadn't quite given up on me before, now the intensity
of my remorse, the telephone calls at four a.m. do it. Of course, I
only call when so hopelessly overcome with self-hate that I must try
to find reassurance; absolution, as it were. Yet with the same part of
myself that makes me tell them about the gun, I know all the while
that I'll only meet with greater rejection.
Of course, after the call, I'm wretched with an even more intense
sense of guilt and remorse, and faced with the reahzation that no
one can understand or help me, these are the nights I decide suicide
is the only way.
Maria was different. I knew that from the start when, looking at
me calmly she said: "I know this madness bit is some kind of act.
What I want to know is why you're crazy enough to be putting it
She lasted much longer than the others, I'll grant her that, insisting she'd find out what made me tick if it killed her. Well, it almost
did but at last she too ran away, unable to put up with the suspicions, the violent hostility, and worst of aU, the inevitable repentance. It exhausted her. I knew all the time it was exhausing her,
Watlte for^a^wwSed^Island
A. G. Bailey "Into the flooding tide
to seek the consolation of the waters,
to find the depths a life of blessed peace
after the sable ride."
McCLELLAND & STEWART / The Canadian Publishers
At Good Bookstores Everywhere $5.95 cl.
146 yet it went on like that until she quit living with me and then,
unable to cope with what she called my "reproachful stares" each
time we met, left town.
That was the end of my contemplation of suicide, although as it
turned out, it wasn't the gun I used.
For the past year, I've done little beyond working as an admissions clerk in the hospital Emergency Department where (perversely, some think) I got a job soon after my discharge. That, and
working on a novel in the evenings. I got the job because I needed
a reminder, I thought, and started the novel both as a kind of diary
and because, suddenly, I found myself obsessed not only with doing
well, but with accomplishing something of importance, leaving some
sort of mark behind, as they say. Strangely enough, having been
"saved," I began to dread that something would happen to me and
interfere with my effort before it was completed. I took my novel
with me wherever I went, fearing the possibility of fire. It was, in a
sense, the best time of my adult years — caring enough to dread.
But it gradually wore off, replaced by a growing indifference toward the novel itself (which I hated because it sounded too much
like me) and everything around me. Still, it was throughout winter,
a reasonably comfortable indifference. Then spring came, and then
the other day, the eggs.. . .
I haven't gone to work since yesterday. I was out of clean socks
and shirts and the child next door wouldn't stop crying. I didn't
bother to call the hospital.
Toward evening, I was still lying on my bed, stomach grumbling,
cursing the empty package of cigarettes. I got up for some milk but
there was none left and I returned to bed, focusing on a fly circling
the bare lightbulb. The telephone rang then, but when I answered,
my hand shaking slightly, there was no one on the line. I thought it
had to be a wrong number and yet, soon after, I found myself
eyeing the door, staring at the small brass knob until I was sure I
saw it turn, glinting in the semi-darkness. I fell asleep then, wondering what would happen.
for almost every taste
and purpose can be found,
easily, at
919 Robson
670 Seymour
4560 W. 10th Avenue
1032 W. Hastings
CA 4-7012
University of British Columbia
Hours: Weekdays 8:45 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.
bailey, A. c, Thanks For A Drowned Island,  1973, McClelland and Stewart
Limited, poetry, 94 pp., $5.95.
bullis, jerald, Taking Up The Serpent, Ithaca House, poetry, 58 pp., $2.95.
carruth, hayden, From Snow and Rock, from Chaos,  1973, New Directions
Publishing Corporation, poetry, 60 pp., $2.25.
duncan, robert, The Opening of the Field, 1973, New Directions Publishing
Corporation, poetry, 96 pp., $2.45.
fraser, Raymond, The Black Horse Tavern, 1972, Influvin Publications, Montreal, fiction, 186 pp., $2.95.
gill, myrna lakshmi, First Clearing, 1973, poetry, 70 pp.
greenberg, alvin, Dark Lands, 1973, Ithaca House, poetry, 70 pp., $2.95.
henkel,  heinrich,   The Painters,  translated  by  Michael  Bullock.  A Davis-
Poynter Playscript, London, 1973, 61 pp., £ 1.00.
kuzma, greg,  What Friends Are For,  1973, The Best Cellar Press, Nebraska,
poetry, 20 pp., $1.00.
metcalf, john, The Lady Who Sold Furniture,  1973, Clarke, Irwin & Company Limited, fiction, 150 pp., $4.95.
michie, james, The Epigrams of Martial, 1973, Random House, poetry translations, 214 pp., $1.95.
moore,  mavor, 4 Canadian Playwrights,   1973, Holt, Rinehart & Winston of
Canada Limited, 92 pp.
mow at, farley, Tundra,  1973, McClelland and Stewart Limited, non-fiction,
416 pp., $12.50.
nowlan, alden, Various Persons Named Kevin O'Brien, 1973, Clarke, Irwin &
Company, Limited, fiction, 142 pp., $6.75.
plumly, Stanley, How The Plains Indians Got Horses, 1973, The Best Cellar
Press, Nebraska, poetry, 20 pp., $1.00.
purdy, al, Selected Poems,  1973, McClelland and Stewart Limited,  128 pp.,
purdy, al (editor), Storm Warning, The New Canadian Poets, McClelland and
Stewart Limited, poetry, 152 pp., $2.95.
rohmer,   richard,   The   Arctic   Imperative,   1973,   McClelland   and   Stewart
Limited, non-fiction, 224 pp., $3.95.
Thompson, Kent, The Tenants Were Corrie and Tennie,  1973, The MacMil-
lan Company of Canada Limited, fiction, 200 pp., $6.95.
trakl, georg, Poems, translated by Lucia Getsi, 1973, Mundus Artium Press,
'73 PP-
wiebe, rudy, The Temptations of Big Bear, 1973, McClelland & Stewart Ltd.,
fiction, 415 pp., $8.95.
york, thomas, We, the Wilderness, 1973, McGraw-Hill Ryerson Limited, fiction, 170 pp., $6.95.
Books Abroad, Summer 1973, An International Literary Quarterly sponsored by
The University of Oklahoma, 610 pp., subscriptions $8.00 per year, $2.50 per
Boundary 2, Spring 1973, A Journal of Postmodern Literature, published State
University of New York at Binghamton, 760 pp., subscriptions $5.00 per year,
$2.00 per copy.
Bucknell Review, Winter 1972 and Spring 1973, A Journal of Letters, Arts and
Sciences, published Bucknell University, Pennsylvania, 142 pp., subscriptions
$5.50 for 3 issues, $2.50 per copy.
Canadian Literature Nos. 56 & 57, Spring 1973, A Quarterly of Criticism and
Review, published University of British Columbia, 128 pp., subscriptions $5.50
per year, $2.00 per copy.
December, Volume 15, 1973, A Magazine of the Arts and Opinion, subscriptions
$7.00 for four issues, $2.00 per copy, 274 pp.
Ellipse 12, 1973, French and English writers in translation, 136 pp., $1.50.
Epoch, Winter 1973, Ithaca House, Fiction, Poetry, Reviews, 220 pp., $3 per
volume, $ 1 per copy.
Exile, Volume 1, Number 3, 1973, A Literary Quarterly, published Atkinson
College, York University, Toronto, subscriptions $7.00 per year for four
copies, $2.00 per copy.
Impulse, Winter 1973, Volume 2 and 4, Contemporary Canadian Writing,
Esquire Printing Company Limited, Canada, 48 pp., subscriptions $4.00 per
Journal of Popular Culture, Spring 1973, published Bowling Green University,
Ohio, subscriptions $10.00 annually, $3.00 per copy, 630 pp., published 4
times a year.
Juggler, Spring 1973, Volume 28, Number 2, published by and for the members
of the Notre Dame-St. Mary's community; subscriptions $1.00 per year, $1.50
per copy.
Mundus Artium, Latin American Poetry, published Ohio University, Athens,
Ohio, A Journal of International Literature and the Arts, subscriptions $4.00
per year, $1.50 per copy, 152 pp.
Sid'Martv "Eni°min9the mind
*     to the work of hands
Rubbing oil in leather rigging
Busting knuckles shoeing the gelding
Enforcing rhythms coloured with blood"        The Work of Hands
McCLELLAND & STEWART / The Canadian Publishers
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150 New Directions 26, 1973, New Directions Publishing Corporation, An International Anthology of Prose and Poetry, 184 pp., $2.95.
New: XXI, Spring/Summer 1973, American and Canadian Poetry, published
The Crossing Press, Trumansburg, N.Y., 80 pp., subscriptions $2.75, $1.00
per copy.
Overland, 53, Spring 1972, Quarterly Literary Magazine, published Melbourne,
Australia, 64 pp., subscriptions $2.00 per year.
The Canadian Fiction Magazine, Spring 1973, Journal of Contemporary Canadian Fiction, 130 pp., subscriptions $5.00 per year, $1.75 per copy.
The Drama Review, Volume 17, Number 2, June 1973, Visual Performance
Issue, published New York University, New York, 140 pp., subscriptions $7.50
per year.
The Falcon, Spring 1973, Vol. 4, No. 6, published Mansfield State College, Pa.,
124 pp., subscriptions $2.00 per year, $1.00 per copy.
The Greensboro Review, Number 13, Winter 1973, published University of
North Carolina at Greensboro, 110 pp., subscriptions $4.00, $1.00 per copy.
The Malahat Review, Number 26, 1973, An International Quarterly of Life and
Letters, published University of Victoria, B.C., 244 pp., subscriptions $5.00
per year, $1.50 per copy.
The Southern Review, Spring 1973, published quarterly at Louisiana State
University, 500 pp., subscriptions $5.00 per year, $1.50 per copy.
Wascana Review, Spring, 1973, Vol. 8, No. 1, published University of Saskatchewan, Regina, 70 pp., subscriptions $2.50 per year, $1.50 per copy.
West Coast Poetry Review, Spring 1973, Vol. 2, Number 3, Issue 7, 68 pp.,
subscriptions $5.00 per year, $1.50 per copy.
Western Humanities Review, Winter and Spring 1973, published quarterly by
the University of Utah,  116 pp., subscriptions $5.00 per year, $1.50 per copy.
Works, Winter 72/73, A Quarterly of Writing, published AMS Press, Inc., New
York, 208 pp., subscriptions $5.00 per year, $1.50 per copy.
151 rhe Canadian Fiction
"There are many more outlets for poetry than there are for short stories in
Canada, and so I was very happy to see the first number of The Canadian
Fiction Magazine ..." David Arnason, The Fiddlehead.
"Those who enjoy experimental and speculative fiction might do worse than
submit/subscribe to The Canadian Fiction Magazine ..." Paul Green, Riverside Quarterly.
"... a breath of fresh air on the Canadian literary scene." John McGill, The
Book Report.
"Much of its material is experimental, but looks to be rigidly edited ... very
solid." The Vancouver Province.
Now in its third year of publication, The Canadian Fiction Magazine has published outstanding fiction by scores of both new and well-known writers from all
parts of Canada. A partial list of its contributors includes:
Please send all donations, subscriptions, and manuscripts to:
The Canadian Fiction Magazine
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