PRISM international

Prism international Prism international Jul 31, 1960

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a magazine of
"' »"i
:..?■•> f.
»!,. #•
Douglas Leechman, B.Sc, M.A., Ph.D., F.R.S.C.
A comprehensive text about the native people of Canada, by an outstanding
Canadian anthropologist.
Native lore and custom presented in an authoritative but entertaining
fashion, of interest to the casual reader, to the serious student of Indian culture
and legends, and to social studies classes in Canadian schools.
An invaluable source of reference for the school, the home, or the public
A systematic treatment of the ways of life of tribes in each of the regions
of Canada.
Authentic, accurately drawn illustrations by E. A. Ingram of the National
Museum of Canada. Mr. Ingram, in most cases, used the actual materials in
the Museum as models.
357 pp. List $4.00
lox   B50,   Scarborough.   Onls Prism
SUMMER, i960
Editorial 5
A Free Country, a story rudy 0. robinson 7
The Undergoing of the
Evening-Lands, a poem clif bennett 22
Late Discing, a poem clif bennett 22
The Dreamers, a poem jim salt 23
The Hunter, a story f. r. bresgal 24
Gal Souzy, a sketch Elizabeth luckhurst 27
The Colour of Crowd, a sketch Elizabeth luckhurst 28
For Five, a sonnet Elizabeth k. Campbell 30
Mountain, a sonnet Elizabeth k. Campbell 30
The Ship, a sonnet Elizabeth k. Campbell 31
End of Summer, a sonnet Elizabeth k. Campbell 31
Boxing Day, a sonnet Elizabeth k. Campbell 32
The Third Rail, a poem julia Morrison 33
Lady Wrestler, Downed
at Forty-Three, a poem julia Morrison 34
The Long Winter, a story roberto ruberto 35
For Helen and Martha Knox,
a poem alden a. nowlan 55
On Seeing a Bear Tied
to a Fender, a poem alden a. nowlan 55
Shirley, a poem alden a. nowlan 56 STAFF
associate editors
managing editor
business manager
cover design
Jan de Bruyn
Elliott B. Gose
Jacob Zilber
Heather Spears Goldenberg
Jacob Zilber
Ken Hodkinson
Donald G. Stephens
Yolande Newby
Murray Johnson
Alice Zilber
Cherie Smith
Carol Williams
Pegi Nichol
Don Jarvis
Prism h an independent quarterly publication, published by The Prism Society. Annual subscriptions are
$3-5°. single copies, $1.00, and may be obtained by writing to the Subscription Manager, 3492 West
35th Avenue, Vancouver 13, British Columbia, Canada. MSS should be submitted to the Editor at
the same address and must be accompanied by a self-addressed, stamped envelope.
for almost every taste and
purpose can be found, easily, at
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With this issue Prism completes its first volume. In the first issue we
stated Prism's intentions, and now we feel that an analysis of our
achievements and shortcomings is in order.
In our desire to make Prism above all lively and interesting we have
at times fallen into error; and because of our initial inexperience we
committed a variety of technical sins. But we feel that it is better to
venture, to accept our fallibility and sometimes to err, than to be conservatively 'proper' and consequently lack-lustre. In spite of our lapses
and mistakes, therefore, Prism has been characterized by liveliness and
We stated in the Editorial in Issue One that we would accept material "with impact, verve and guts" from any source; that we would
provide our readers with "all possible range of forms, techniques,
themes and styles"; and that we would devote our pages entirely to
creative writing. We have published work from writers all over Canada
and the United States, and even one from Burma. We have given our
readers variety in form: stories, sketches, an essay, chapters from
novels, drama, and poetry; and in mood, ranging from the titillating
delight of Kreisel's Travelling Nude and the bouncing jauntiness of
Robinson's A Free Country, to the powerful irony of Kero's The Compartment and the intriguing conflicts of Margaret Laurence's Merchant of Heaven and Godman's Master; from the wit of Souster's
Cigarette Girl, Birney's Mammorial Stanzas, and Watson's Laurentian
Man to the passionate lyricism of Elizabeth Campbell's sonnets and
Nowlan's poems.
We have, in accordance with our stated intention, introduced several
new writers. We regard this as one of our most important functions,
and although the pieces we have published have not all revealed future
'giants' of Canadian literature, each displayed what we considered to
be a talent worth encouraging. Some, indeed, are, in our view, destined
to make a considerable contribution to future literary developments in
Canada — Margaret Laurence in fiction, for example, and Lionel
Kearns and Richard Watson in poetry.
It was one of our aims to make manifest the current vigor of British
Columbia writing, and to do this without becoming parochial. Nevertheless, the majority of our contributors have been westerners. This was not the result of design. We would like to feel that in the coming
years we will receive far more contributions from elsewhere than we
have so far been getting. With the other literary magazines which
exist in Canada we shall continue to help in the development of a
national literature. Consequently, we have planned for the next volume
two special issues. One will bring to our readers the best work of university students across the nation; another will make our readers
familiar with the qualities of the writing being done by our French-
speaking compatriots. We hope to present their work in both languages.
An effort must be made to break ourselves of the untenable habit of
considering that when we speak of Canadian literature we are speaking only of writing in English. We are anxious to contribute to that
effort, and we hope that our contribution will lead to continued literary
exchange between English-speaking and French-speaking Canadians.
The other issues of Prism's second year will provide additional pleasure
for our readers and the opportunity for creative writers from all of
Canada and elsewhere — be they new or established —■ to publish their
edited BY Stanley Richards
The only Collection of Canadian One-Act Plays
Step lively, boy. Look sharp. You're in my town. You're in the town of
Manteca Bay. Take a look around, boy. Look out at the blue Caribbean
Ocean. Then swing your head around, boy, and take a look at that shapely
filly prancing down the sidewalk.
But don't strain your neck, boy. Don't strain your neck. Before you go
rushing around my town, listen to me. Listen to Boysie Thomas. I know this
town inside out.
Ask me any question you like, boy. Any question at all. See that down-
handle Raleigh parked over by the side-walk? That's my Raleigh. Boysie
Thomas goes cruising all over the place on his Raleigh; and Boysie Thomas
knows this town inside out. Look sharp! Or else that Mount Coley bus is
going to throw out a pile of muck on your shirt.
So you want to know who is the biggest fool in Manteca Bay? Easy.
Eustace Brown. The biggest fool in this town is Eustace Brown; and if anybody wants me to say that again I'll just come right out and say it again.
Short, black fellow. Comes from somewhere over by Mount Coley. Waiter
at the Casa Verde Hotel, which is about six miles out of town —• half way
out to the Rose Hall Estate. God's love! What a pile of money that boy is making out at Casa Verde!
Eustace Brown comes from over by Mount Coley and is making a big pile
of money over at the Casa Verde.
Mean, though. Hardly ever see him in town. Eustace does not pal around.
On a Sunday you might bounce into him emerging from the Baptist Church
on Duke Street; but, apart from that, you'll hardly ever come across him at
To show what a mean boy this Eustace is, one Saturday morning I was
cruising down Barnett Street — on the Raleigh — and as I was manoeuvring the big corner over by the bus station, who should greet my eye but
Eustace Brown — waiting for the Mount Coley bus. So I hopped off the
Raleigh sort of cute-like — you know the style, backwards — and parked her
on the sidewalk and signalled him to come over to the fence. "Long time
no see," I said. "Eustace, boy, what you know?"
"Mornin', Boysie," says Eustace.
"Let's hop over to Ling Pow and kill a quarter quart," I said, bending
down to snap off my bicycle clips.
"No, Boysie. Di bus soon come."
"How you mean 'no'?" I says. "We could go up to the top verandah.
From Ling Pow's top verandah you can see the whole town, man."
"No, Boysie," says Eustace again. "Suppose di bus come in, an' di man
look an' look an' don't see mi an' den gone bout him business."
Mean fellow.
And then there was the First of August Teachers' Dance at Casa Verde.
You know the style: off-season, so the place is open cheap to any bunch of
people that have a title.
That's one dance where you will always find Boysie Thomas, even though
I can never lay my hands on a lawful ticket and this means having to wriggle
my way past the doorman. Anyway, when I was through outmanoeuvring
this great official and got myself established in the Ballroom, who should I
bounce into but Eustace — toting drinks and bowing and scraping and saying 'Yes, sir' and 'No, sir' to everybody. Look here, man, I had to laugh:
Eustace bowing and scraping to a bunch of coco-head teacher people when
he had more money than the pack of them put together. And that ghoulish
Anyway I took a seat over by the wall and there was a sweet little brown
thing sitting beside me; about twenty-one or twenty-two. You know the
style — bright eyes, clean and ripe. She was wearing a sort of dress that I
just love to brush my chest against; so I asked her for a dance.
During the first number she held herself stiff; then in the second I asked
her her name. Name was Thorpe; Sybil Thorpe; pupil-teacher at the Elementary school. Then her address; lived on Barracks Road, close by Posy
Williams. "You know Posy Williams?" I asked her. "Posy?" she says. "Who don't know Posy Williams?" And right away I
nuzzled her head on to my shoulder. Then I told her my name and she
asked me where I worked and I told her with McGrath.
"Which McGrath? The contractor?"
"You mean it? The big electrical contractor?"
"Yes." And she moved her eyes as if to say that I must be some sort of a
big shot.
Then a big country-teacher fellow cut in on me and I hopped over to
Eustace and flashed him a smile and said: "Eustace, you useless millionaire.
Start living, boy. Take off that ghoulish uniform and catch a dance, boy."
And all Eustace did was to look shy.
Just in case you mistake me for a big shot, let me tell you about Mr. McGrath. Mr. McGrath is the smartest man in Manteca Bay. The very day
that the tourist business started up — look here, man, the very day — McGrath jumped into the electrical contracting business. If you know Manteca
Bay any at all or if you live anywhere between Port Antonio and Sav-la-mar
you're sure to know the light blue McGrath station wagon. Buick. Only light
blue Buick station wagon on the North Coast.
In my book McGrath is a sort of genius when it comes to the field of
electricity. McGrath is what I call a genius operator. But let me tell you
something else about McGrath. McGrath is also another kind of genius.
He's a genius with women of every race and creed. His name is a name that
you'll bounce into in every hole and corner of the Parish of St. James.
Took me on as apprentice at five bobs a week, and then he noticed that
I was cutting through the work like an auger-bit and raised me to seven,
and then in two two's raised me again to ten.
Then one day he called me into the office.
"Boysie," he said.
"Yes, Mr. McGrath."
"Boysie, yuh can read?"
"Yes, Mr. McGrath."
"Well, read dese," he said; and he handed me three books about wiring
big buildings. That was all.
"Thank you, Mr. McGrath."
Right now I am pulling in way over a pound a day and I plan to stick
with McGrath.
Anyway, to get back to Miss Sybil Thorpe; right away I was nuzzling in
on that dress. At the end of the number I suggested a stroll; the place was
getting steamy, I said; too many country people, I said; and she said O.K.
So we squeezed through the crush and strolled down by the beach. I spread
my jacket on the sand. Cool.
The first half-hour was strictly neutral. Then I tried to nuzzle her head on to my shoulder again and she held herself stiff and said: "Behave yourself, Boysie. Don't you see that worthless Eustace Brown spying out on us
from the verandah?"
God's love! What a wicked fool!
So I had to suppress the voltage. The thing burnt my heart.
"Don't give me that," I said. "This is a free country."
She looked at me as if I was a shark; and a dangerous species of shark.
"Alright," I said. "Where you know Eustace from?"
"Church," she said. Then she said how Eustace might go and tell her
father and that that would mean a big blow-out.
Listen to me, man. If you ever find yourself in a situation like that, the
best thing to do is switch off the voltage altogether.
But not Boysie Thomas. "This is a free country," I said again. And right
off the bat she got up and started back towards the Hotel.
"Alright," I said. "Alright. But you don't have to walk away and leave
me like that." I called out to her. "Sybil," I said, "You're walking away and
leaving me." But she wouldn't even slow down.
Back inside the Hotel I hustled over to Eustace with a big grin and said:
"Eustace, you rich dog. Don't do that to me, man. Don't do that to me. She
is only my cousin, man. Do you mean to tell me that nowadays a man can't
give a little cousin a few minutes of advice without everybody tuning in?"
But all Eustace did was to show me a gold tooth and look shy.
Then I signalled the big country-teacher fellow to join me in the bar for
half a quart of Appleton's. It was this brainy-boy that brought Sybil to the
"Teacher," I said, pouring him a stiff shot. "Teacher, you're a man that
knows a lot. Tell me something about Miss Sybil Thorpe."
"Well," he says, "You know the shoemaker shop on Duke Street."
"Yes,"I said. "Man named Normie "
"Correct," he says. "That's her father. Normie Thorpe. Staunch Baptist,"
he says.
"In that case," I said, "Mr. Thorpe must run as soft and deep as a river!"
"Correct again," he says. "She is what is known in vulgar circles as a bastard," he said.
"As soft as a river!"
"I have no idea who the mother is," he says, "but Sybil lives with her
father and is the apple of his eye."
Then Sybil walks into the bar looking for her dancing partner. He wasn't
in the mood. "You young people go out and dance," he says, adjusting his
spectacles and pouring another shot. He was a friend of mine.
But don't jump to any hasty conclusions, boy. Don't go hopping off to any
hasty conclusions. Listen to me. I'm telling you this thing. Right now I'm
telling you about bastards. Boysie Thomas don't claim to be no expert on this subject; for Boysie
Thomas is not a bastard himself, and so cannot claim to know that subject
inside out. But if a girl is a bastard that's none of her fault, boy. None of her
fault at all.
So I can tell you this, boy. Don't jump to hasty conclusions. Don't go hopping off to any conclusions at all. And I can also tell you that in a whole
hour of jiving and tripping around I could manage to squeeze nothing from
that God-fearing doll —■ nothing at all.
I say to myself: to hell with Sybil Thorpe; if Sybil Thorpe thinks that I'm
going to drool around and start losing weight just because she thinks I'm a
hundred and seventy-five pounds of dirt, then Sybil Thorpe is not altogether
correct in the head. Don't watch that, man. A pack of foolishness.
A Saturday night in October. Boysie Thomas is stepping forth through his
gate, complete with down-handle Raleigh. The air is clean with tropical
moonlight. There's a pretty humming reaching my ears from downtown.
Firecrackers. Noise. Excitement. There's a shower of multicoloured rockets
over the harbour, over by the Henderson wharf. Excitement.
Manteca Bay is celebrating a great football victory over the great town
of Sav-la-mar; and Posy Williams is the great goal-getter on the Manteca
Bay side. So I'm cruising over to Posy to join in the merrymaking.
Furthermore, Posy Williams scored nothing — not a single goal, man —
in that great match. The thing burnt his heart, man. And Posy Williams
owes me a penny. Every time there's going to be a great match, I go up to
Posy and say: "Posy, you genius between the goalposts," I say. "I bet you
a penny that you don't score a single goal in this match." And Posy says:
"Boysie, you bad-mouthed boy. I'll take that bet." So he forks out a penny
and I fork out a penny and Ling Pow takes the money and puts it up careful in a little safe.
O.K. I'm cruising over to Posy and I turn into Barracks Road. And who
is that lovely child wearing shorts — and riding a nifty lady's wheel —• about
a chain ahead of me? I rise up out of the saddle and advance to investigate.
I get abreast of the doll, wrap my left hand around the handle of the lady's
wheel and cruise alongside. It is Sybil Thorpe.
"Boysie Thomas," she says. "Leave me alone."
But I did this thing cool, man. Cool. So the lady cannot be razzled with
"Boysie Thomas," she says. "Hmph. Leave me alone, I tell you."
"Sybil, my love," I says. "Take a look at that big round moon. There's a
big round moon over the harbour of Manteca Bay tonight, my love. And
Boysie Thomas is as free and happy as a bird." Sybil is smiling, so I carry
on. "And there are multicoloured rockets spitting a pretty noise all over the
J.I place. Sybil, my love," I says, "I would give anything in the world to take
you out in a canoe and show you the view out on the Caribbean Ocean."
She slows down to a stop: "True?"
"Sure," I says.
"You mean it?"
"Yes. Sure."
"When? Now?"
"Any time," I says. "I could pick up a canoe over by the John's Hall
"Alright then," she says. "Alright. But don't let anybody see us going over
there," she says. "For I don't want to get into any fuss."
"You will come, then?"
"Yes. You go on. Go on Boysie. Wait for me at the crossing."
"Yes. Yes, Boysie," she says. "Boysie," she says, "I wouldn't do you a thing
like that. Sure. I'm coming. Wait for me at the John's Hall crossing." Boy, I was off! Listen to me, man. I was off! And she came, man. Came
cruising over on that nifty lady's wheel; hair up in a bun; wearing white
shorts. "Boysie," she says, "I'll race you over to the next corner." And Boysie
rises up slowly in his saddle. But, what you mean, man? When Boysie Thomas
gets a challenge from a frisky filly to race her over to the next corner, Boysie
Thomas does not hackle up himself and ride too fast.
So I took her out in a canoe to show her the nice view from the sea. Then
a little nuzzling on the beach. Nice. Then she held my hand and, looked at
the luminous dial and said: "Lord have mercy, Boysie. It's almost eleven
o'clock and I have almost two miles to ride!"
"Alright," I said. "Let's go."
Back at the John's Hall crossing she refused to step off the lady's wheel
to tell me a proper goodnight. So I said: "O.K., if that's the way you feel
about it." Thing burnt my heart, man. And she knew that I was hurt and
that hurt her heart.
"Boysie," she says. "Don't carry on like that."
"Carry on how?"
"Like you don't have any sense," she says.
"To hell with it," I said. "This is a free country."
And that made her lose her temper altogether. She kissed her teeth and
rode away and left me.
Next day — Sunday —■ I was out early for a sea bath and a few bodybuilding exercises, then back to bed for a spell. Then got up and dressed —
remembering to clean all the country dirt off the Raleigh before putting on
the white shirt — and set out on a cruise. Not a soul in the streets; sun hot
and sweet on my back. I was cruising over to Ling Pow to slap a few dominoes with Posy Williams.
Posy is the nicest boy in Manteca Bay. Floorwalker at the Bata store on
Market Street. Nice tall fellow; walks slow with hands flapping even slower.
Talks slow too. Great swimmer, weightlifter, centre-forward, everything.
Rides a Rudge with cable-brakes.
Ling Pow pays me my twopence and Posy starts to talk. "So, Boysie,"
says Posy, slow-like. "You were out of town last night."
"That's right, boy,"I says.
"Nice girl," he says, shuffling the dominoes on the table.
You know the style — slow-like. "You shouldn't have done that."
God's love! What is Posy razzling me about?
I threw down my dominoes, jumped up off the bench and told Posy two
big bad words. Right away Ling Pow is razzling me too; bawling out my
name and telling me to stop making noise in his shop.
Let me tell you something about Ling Pow. Ling Pow is a man I like and
respect. Ling Pow is the sharpest shopkeeper in this town and one of the
nicest people in Manteca Bay. You'll never find him spreading a rumour,
13 true or false. You'll never catch him spying on innocent young fellows on
cool beaches. He never tunes in on a soul; and it would be a waste of time
tuning in on Ling Pow, since he is emitting nothing.
But Ling Pow keeps a revolver under his pillow. And if a burglar slides
into his shop at dead of night, this will set off a little alarm over Ling Pow's
bed, and Ling Pow will wake up and reach for his revolver and step right
out and shoot that burglar in the leg.
So Ling Pow is not a man that Boysie Thomas likes to cross; and when
Ling Pow tells me to stop making a lot of noise, I stop.
14 "Alright Ling Pow,"I says. "You're a man that I like and respect. I'll settle
down again." Ling Pow laughs, so I razzle him a little. Ling Pow is a fellow
that you can razzle when he is laughing. Ling Pow is alright, man. "O.K.,
Ling Pow," I says. "I'll take it easy. I'll take it easy, man. But I don't like
how your place smells. Your place smells of too much salt fish and flour and
sugar and a whole swarm of bees that are after biting off my neck. Clean up
the place," I says. "Clean up the place, Ling Pow." And Ling Pow is still
As I take my seat again Posy says: "Sybil Thorpe is Eustace Brown's
woman. You hearing me, Boysie?"
"Lie," I said, shuffling the dominoes.
"I'm not asking you," says Posy. "I'm telling you, man. I'm as sure as
fate. What the hell you think Eustace Brown is doing in the house every
"What?" I says. "Eustace Brown? Eustace Brown cruising around Barracks
Road every Sunday? Foolishness."
"I'm not asking you," says Posy. "I'm telling you! Every Sunday morning
Eustace Brown hops over from Casa Verde and establishes himself for the
day at a certain address on Barracks Road. Takes over the place," says Posy.
"Don't give me that," I says. "Eustace is a clown."
"Alright," says Posy. "But, anyway, Boysie," he says, "you caused her a
lot of trouble last night. Listen to me. Father beat her. Was waiting up for
her with a strap."
"Posy, you mad," I says.
"How you mean mad?" says Posy. "How you mean mad? You don't know
Mass Normie. Mass Normie keeps a cowskin strap under his pillow and any
time he feels that Sybil is getting too far out of hand, he gives her a hell of
a beating with it, yes."
"All you people," says Ling Pow. "All you people always beating up one
another Nowadays, anywhere you see a little boy he has a giant of a rock
stone in his pocket!"
- Listen to me, boy. When Mr. McGrath called me into the office a few
weeks later and told me about the job over by New Port, I was so glad, boy,
that I could jump up in the air. McGrath pays me double time for working
out of Manteca Bay; so Boysie Thomas is going to hop back to town on
Christmas Eve Night with pounds and shillings bulging from his inside-
"Big new American hotel," says McGrath. "Gibraltar Cove," he says. "An'
I don't want to hear that you carryin' on and sky-larkin' all over the place."
"Yes, Mr. McGrath."
15 "An' I want dat job finish before Christmas," he says.
"Alright, Mr. McGrath."
"You know New Port?"
"No, Mr. McGrath."
"Well, let me tell you dis, den, Boysie. I know a lot of people in New
Port; so watch yourself."
"Yes, Mr. McGrath."
"An' another thing," he says, "New Port full of dirty women. So watch
youself in dat connection too."
"Yes, Mr. McGrath. Thank you, Mr. McGrath."
I had to laugh: McGrath telling me to watch myself, after the exhibition
that he has been performing for the past umpteen years all up and down
the North Coast.
Anyway, boy, I slung the Raleigh on top of the light blue Buick station
wagon and headed out for the Parish of St. Mary with nothing but joy in
my heart. Mr. McGrath fixed me up in a nice little place at Spring Head
and left me as happy as a high-flying kite. Sweet little place; you could strain
your neck just looking around to survey all the coconut trees within range.
The Raleigh is parked in a cool outhouse and I am established way up on
the top floor looking out at the blue Caribbean Ocean and surveying coconut trees.
The first three weeks it was night and day, night and day, with the American people fussing and cussing about getting a certain section of the place
finished by the First of December and Mr. McGrath dropping in on the job
every now and again. Work was tearing my clothes, man.
Then one night I cruised over to a noisy bush dance over on the Isabella
banana estate. People like ants. Curried goat smelling up the place like a
wicked incense. So what? So Boysie Thomas is under a spell: Boysie Thomas
finds himself nuzzling behind a lignum vitae post. You know the style —
meaty thing, half-Indian. All of a sudden there is a fat hand holding me on
my shoulder.
"God Almighty, Boysie! What yuh doin' up here?" It is Joe Hendricks,
the giant that drives the Royal Mail: one hand holding me on my shoulder
and the other holding a forty-ounce bottle of Two Dagger Rum.
"Sybil send a message," says Joe.
"Lie," I says, releasing the meaty thing. How could Sybil ever talk to a
dirty boy like Joe?
"Sure as fate," says Joe. "Sybil ask me to tell yuh that she love yuh."
"As there is a God in heaven," says Joe. "Sybil ask me to tell yuh that she
dyin' to see yuh."
God's truth! Joe Hendricks is a friend of mine!
"Tell Sybil and Posy to look out for me on Christmas Eve," I said.
16 "Poor girl can't sleep," says Joe. "Can't sleep at all," says Joe, winking at
the half-Indian thing as if I was a wicked two-timing species of barracuda.
Right away this woman boxes me all over my face and I have to back
out and leave the rest of the nuzzling to Joe.
That night at Isabella caused me a wicked heartburn. No, not the girl.
Look, old man, there is a wall between nuzzling and sin that you are too
damned likely to jump over when its a case of leaning against a lignum vitae
post in the bushes of the Parish of St. Mary, with wonder drugs and incense
smelling up the place. No, not the girl.
It started with my dynamo. On the way home from Isabella the dynamo
on the Raleigh gave out on me and I had to make it into New Port the
following Monday to pick up a new coil. Downed tools at half-past three
and hustled across to the Pringle Hardware Store, close by the Market. I
had the Raleigh parked on the piazza, went in and bought the coil, then
came out and stood up on the piazza winding it on. Two chains down the
street I could see a station wagon with a lovely brown-skinned creature in
American dark glasses relaxing in the front seat. "Boysie Thomas," I says to
myself. "Make haste, boy. Make haste and adjust that dynamo back on to
the wheel. And then, boy, cruise over and parade yourself and your worthy
vehicle before the admiring eyes of that rustic Beauty Queen." Beauty
Queen? What the hell! Christ!
Foolishness. It was a Buick; light blue; and who was that chivalrous lady-
killer stepping forth from the Puerto Nuevo Bar? McGrath!
I doubled back to the Cove and hunted out the watchman and asked him
if McGrath had been snooping around.
"Yes, Missa Thomas," he says. "An' he raise a pile o' noise! Say yuh mus'
be getting slack and how he hear dat yuh rushin' all di woman up at Isabella
an' a whole heap o' noise."
So I say: "To hell with McGrath. This is a free country, and if McGrath
"Missa Thomas," he says, pointing a finger in my face. "Watch yuhself.
Watch yuhself wid me, Missa Thomas. Missa McGrath is a man dat I know
from long time, an' Missa McGrath is my frien'."
God's truth! Even the watchman is tuning in on me!
Now let me tell you something about Boysie Thomas. I am five-foot eight
and weigh a hundred and seventy-five pounds. I live clean, do a little bodybuilding and I am stocky around the chest and shoulders. I wear a brown
pair of shoes, brown khaki trousers, a nice white shirt and no hat. I'm an
electrician from Manteca Bay and I work with McGrath and I plan to stick
with McGrath.
Boysie Thomas likes to cruise around this town and sometimes park over
17 by Ling Pow and associate with wise fellows such as Messrs. Pow and Williams. I also like to be left alone. Don't tune in on me, man. Just leave me
alone like hell, man, and everything will hop along fine between you and me.
I do not like country buses, since country buses have a habit of spitting
ugly muck either over my clothes or over my Raleigh. Generally speaking I
do not like country people; but I have nothing against them, provided they
don't come at me with a machete, don't bawl out my name, and don't keep
studying every move I make.
The watchman was a little old man named Mass Charlie. Around fifty-
five. Sort of old joker, in a way. Used to tell me a lot of funny stories about
strutting across the horizon in a ten-foot canoe and hammering great sharks
with his paddle. Used to be a friend of mine.
But now Mass Charlie is tuning in on me. So I take him by the waist and
slap him up like a baby and say:
"Mass Charlie, you are a worthless dog."
"A beg yuh, Missa Thomas. A beg yuh sah."
"Mass Charlie," I says. "You're a worthless dog. Leave me alone, man;
don't tune in on me. Don't like hell tune in on me."
"Missa Thomas, as there's a God in heaven, I wouldn't do a thing like
that, sah."
"Alright, Mass Charlie. Alright. But you tell me this one thing. Tell me
this little thing. Tell me the name of the woman that was in McGrath's
station wagon."
"Jesus Christ, sah! A don't know."
"Mass Charlie, as there is a God in heaven, I'll reach for a piece of stick
and hammer you all over your body."
"Jesus Christ, sah! A beg yuh sah! Gal name Thorpe, sah. Come from
Manteca Bay. Sybil Thorpe, sah."
Sunday afternoon. Mr. McGrath is definitely at home in Manteca Bay
with his faithful wife and playful children. So I venture in through the back
gate of the Puerto Nuevo Bar to drown my little sorrows in an easy stream
of Appleton.
"Buuooiieesee!" It is Joe Hendricks. Beside him sits the woman who delivered me a spiteful blow. Joe has a big, ugly paw around her waist.
"Don't bawl out my name," I says. I know that he is broadcasting all my
movements on McGrath's frequency; but I cannot dare to smash him on
his sweaty face — even though he is only half sober — because he is way
over my weight and horsepower.
Joe says: "Missa McGrath mash up yuh life, man." And she, the woman,
is laughing a big grin too. "Mash yuh up all over di place, man. Mash yuh
up. But come an' have a drink Buoysie, buoy."
How could anybody expect me to drink from the same bottle as Joe Hendricks? I backed out of the place, beat a slow retreat to the coconut trees and parked my friend — the down-handle Raleigh with the new dynamo — in
the cool, waterproof outhouse.
It would have taken a genius operator to finish that job at Gibralter Cove
before Christmas; and I don't claim to be no genius. So on the morning of
Christmas Eve I hopped on to a steamy Diamond T bus and went in to the
office to report the situation to Mr. McGrath. O.K. I don't claim to be no
genius; but Mr. McGrath knows — not just claims, he knows — that he,
McGrath, J. J. McGrath, Electrical Contractor of the town of Manteca Bay,
is a genius operator; and so he was only after tearing off what was left of
my clothes.
"Look 'ere, Boysie," he says. "I told you I wanted you back 'ere by Christmas. Christmas, Boysie. How come di job don't finish?" Man, I was hardly
through the door when McGrath started off on me like that.
"Sorry, Mr. McGrath," I said. "But it's a big hotel, Mr. McGrath, and
the job only needs another three or four days to finish."
"No, Boysie," he says. "Boysie, I know you, an' I know you can work.
You coulda finish dat job long time if it wasn't for skylarkin'."
"Me, Mr. McGrath? Me, Boysie Thomas? Whoever tell you that, Mr.
McGrath, is a liar."
"Look 'ere, Boysie Thomas," he says. "Don't ask me no question bout who
tellin' me nutten. Don't be damn fast." McGrath getting vex now. "Don't
fool aroun' wid me, Boysie Thomas. Don't fool aroun' wid me."
"But, Mr. McGrath," I said. "I've been bursting my clothes with work.
Night and day. Night . . . ."
"Don't ask me no question. I hear all what you carryin' on. One day I
came through an' you wasn't even there."
"Mr. McGrath," I said. "You want to quarrel with me. Alright, quarrel.
But if you think that I going to burst my clothes and mash up myself to
suit you, you mad. Listen to me Mr. McGrath "
"Boysie Thomas, don't make me have to throw you outa my place. Don't
make me have to "
Look here, man, McGrath is not supposed to talk to me like that. I was
wild, man. Wild.
I said: "Touch me, Mr. McGrath. Just touch me. Get up out of your
chair and try to put your hand on me."
McGrath was as frightened as hell. Too frightened even to talk to me.
To hell with McGrath. This is a free country; and if McGrath thinks
that I am going to burst my clothes and rip off my white shirt to suit him, he
is stark, staring mad. Worthless man; clowning around with all the dirty little
girls in the world.
Man, I'm back in Manteca Bay, man. Christmas Eve Night. Fillies pranc-
19 ing all over the sidewalk and Boysie Thomas full of money and vim. To hell
with McGrath.
I hailed a taxi fellow from over by the Railway and told him to drop me
off at Posy fast. Posy was so glad to see me that he could hardly hold the
bottle of Appleton steady.
"Boysie Thomas, you bushman," he says. "We're going to raise hell in
this town tonight, boy. Hell!"
"Posy Williams," I says. "You think you know everything. You think you
know everything that's going on in this town." Posy puts the bottle down and
lights a cigarette. There is Posy — standing and puffing and looking smart.
Puffing cool, man; cool, man. You know the style, slow-like.
"Posy Williams," I says. "You think you are the smartest fellow in the
world; but I've been talking to a watchman out at New Port who has nothing
to do but keep an eye open and study all the vehicles rushing by."
"Boysie," he says. "What the hell are you trying to tell me?" Cool. Still
"I'm trying to tell you," I says, "that what you think you know about
Eustace Brown is a pack of foolishness. Sybil Thorpe is getting all she wants
from McGrath."
"Lie," says Posy.
"How you mean lie?"
"Ignorance," says Posy. "Listen to me, Boysie. You're a bushman; so listen
to me. Sybil Thorpe is making a baby for Eustace Brown."
O.K. Barracks Road was buzzing with rumours. But Boysie Thomas will
tell you no rumours; for Boysie Thomas does not like to spread rumours, true
or false. So here's what I know.
20 I know that on the Second of January the ignorant and sinful shoemaker
collared the apple of his eye and poured a pile of ugly blows on her supple
back: I know this because that night I was sitting on a certain verandah on
Barracks Road and heard the blows and the bawling and recognized the
two voices concerned and hopped over and looked.
I know that on the Fourth of January McGrath was talking on the telephone to the Manager of the Casa Verde for over half an hour.
I know that on the Twentieth of January Eustace Brown and Sybil Thorpe
got married at the Baptist Church on Duke Street, and Boysie Thomas was
sitting on his bicycle across the street and had to laugh.
I know that on the First of February Eustace Brown got a hell of a big
raise of pay. Furthermore, I know the little baby girl. So I know that Eustace
Brown is the biggest fool in Manteca Bay.
For this is a free country; and if any man comes tapping on your door
with this style of guesswork, you have a right to hammer him all over his
body and soul and sling him out into the gutter.
21 The Undergoing
of the Evening-Lands
Killed space with speed,
Stuffed all the spirit-rooms
With dust not worth a prayer,
Piled furniture on each aspiring stair,
Daubed pictures on the windows God looked through,
Painted suffocation on the air.
Now all our cosmos
Like a drying apple shrinks,
While we, within the core,
Shrink too. How shall I halt the crowding suns,
When I must press to you?
Come close . . .
There is no braveness now for dreaming-room.
Not any heart can sing the bursting seed
To crack our tomb. Huddle,
Huddle. We bought ourselves this doom.
Late Discing
Late discing,
ground is hard,
as though the earth
against a too inconstant lover
BY CLIF BENNETT turned her face. Sometimes I think of old beaten men
that sit on the cold stone and
dream of times when there were
clean wars to fight and strong
women unafraid somewhere in the
old men now    sitting along low stone
walls    lighting their cigarettes with
slowness and care    bringing the match to
the tobacco in fingers no longer wary of
the flame
The frugal message in their faces    a hesitant
song of time in skin intricate like rich
laces or ancient leathers
dirty men    bearded men    suncancered men
sitting in the shade of life    with shadows
thin as the reaper's knife
waiting and having known love
I don't hate and fear cats like I do dogs but I don't like to touch them
either for their filth. They're more satisfying to my eyes. My wife has been
wanting a dog or cat or something and god knows she's got enough children
to love and caress but she finally practically stole a calico kitten from up the
block. Even after we had the pretty kitten I told her as clearly as I could
that it would go when the new baby came. She said that she would keep it
till then. She didn't believe me. I told her she didn't believe me. But she
didn't believe I knew she didn't believe me. They carry ringworm, sore eyes.
They smother tiny babies. Lung diseases.
She was going to be a small cat and handsomely marked in the face. We
loved her and kicked her and all the things you do to a cat. I didn't touch
her very much because I touch the babies but my wife held her on her lap
a lot. I often thought she pricked-up her ears at the sound of the child's
—Do you hear that?
—What is it?
—The kitten's flushed a mouse!
—No. She's too young. Do you suppose she'll know what to do with it?
—Bring a light! Bring a light!
I ran to the door to the stairs to the children's room, thinking all the time
it was foolishness, knowing the mouse couldn't make those high stairs, knowing it could slip under the door. I closed the door before I went for a light.
The cat was eyeing the stove. She started-off but returned when we came
with the light.
24 I began thinking: This is a worthwhile cat — biological warfare—and
seeking a weapon. The handle detached from a child's push-toy. A round
nob. A perfect mace. I began thinking, recalling folklore: "Take the first
mouse away from your cat or she'll never kill" or "If you take the mouse
away from your cat she won't hunt." The truth of the first maxim depends
upon some thought in a cat. The truth of the second upon lust. I trust lust.
Lust and disease. A mouse wounded by the filthy claws of a cat must die.
■—Get him out! He'll die from the heat under there!
-—He won't die. It's relatively cool under there.
I searched with my light but there was not much I could see. The broad
supports of the sheet iron facade of the heating stove provided many a cran-
inie for the mouse, stopping the light as well as the broom. Wads of dust and
lumps of lint must be checked for motion or eyes. I found nothing but yet
could not know the mouse was not here. The kitten wandered away again
but she was not quiet. She was prowling. There had been a mouse though
•we had ^iot yet seen it. It was just that she was young and her memory was
short. As she sniffed here and there —■ prowling, stalking — my wife, half following, half directing, moved the furniture about hoping to flush game. I
was unsatisfied about the stove. It was not too hot to hide there all day.
There was too much that I couldn't see. I could touch nothing. What was
not too hot was filthy and had teeth. I contrived and re-contrived a wire
hanger. I probed and probed a long time. I couldn't satisfy myself. My wife
took up her novel. The cat went to sleep.
The children! How slow I had been to get to that door. Perhaps the young
oat was right when she left the stove and wrong when she came back. She
had lost him there and the maze under the stove was the obvious problem.
The stairwell!
On the first stair. A handsome brown coat. A white throat. Clean eyes. He
was gone. The cat knew where. What an arched neck: A Trojan horse of a
O the speed of a mouse! One worries about trouser legs. How a woman
must worry.
25 It was loose again! The length of the room the cat couldn't catch him.
She ran up against the wall. Doubling, winding through furniture, a foot
from the stove she had him. O Trojan cat!
In only moments she began having difficulty staying behind him. Waiting
— waiting longer for the exciting almost losing. A catch. A shake of the
head and The Trojan Cat — losing the mouse.
For the exhausted mouse there was but one refuge within his strength
anymore, the bosom of the cat. How small a thing the mouse must wish to
be. The game went on. The cat coaxing, encouraging the mouse to run.
—Take it away from her.
—I guess I'll have to. Hand me the club.
—Don't kill it, it's been through enough.
—Darling, it's suffering. It can't live.
-—It's not hurt. She hasn't injured it. Just take it outside.
—What if it dies out there and the kids get it? It might even get back
into the basement to die.
The cat was sitting under the dining room table, among the chair legs.
A seated Trojan horse of a cat. Mouse in her mouth, neck arched. She
gave him a little flip, four, maybe six inches out in front of her, watching.
The mouse struggled into her fur belly, among her fur legs. She stepped
around over him, staying away. I moved in. She noticed. I swear she began
to protect him from me, low on her haunches, hiding him. I kicked her to
the left and the mouse raced to the right, into a blind corner. The third
blow of the mace caught and killed the mouse. Three more careful hard
blows on the skull. How soft a thing is a mouse.
I put him in the garbage and took the garbage out. I washed my hands
and washed the mace three times with Dial soap. My sister says that surgeons
are using Dial now because it's more efficient even than green soap, to scrub-
up with.
It has been a year now. My wife hasn't let the cat on her lap again. I have
to feed her. That night I re-assembled the children's toy and dreamed of
rats, of rifles that wouldn't fire, of bayonets.
26 Qal Souzy
Elizabeth Luckhurst
How can you look at every man
like a predatory animal? How goes
that swosh of your hips in motion
with  such  unconscious  concern?
That natural movement taking
such concentration, how do you do it — attract them that way with your
ugly traction? So your breasts are whitened-purpled-quince. So what your
teeth are oyster-pearled and your lips the glaze of glazed cherries? So?
You're  not fooling me.   I'm
woman.  I know why these wolverine eyes to look at men. Your
legs are bowed! Bowed! not much
but some ungracious curve at an
indelicate angle. Just a trace of
bow but nonetheless, are bowed.
Don't stare drooling, grandfather, drooling more than in between your
puffs of pipe. Stop it. Stop it I say. I'm motherly. So she's other than mother's
care it. But "at your age, at your age, why she's a child." The postman's
knock, the milkman's walk, you act woman you, as if you kept the schedule
of their time. Because why? Why because? Because your melon-dew tears,
your fingers, cradle-tapers with candle snuffer for a palm — and it folds to
smoulder a burning of men.
You're not joking me unfem,
though I be child-like in innocence and child-like, I know why
you have to canine peer, to ugly
wasp your willow waist and rotate
your round rear. Bowed are your
legs. Slight, I will admit, but
bowed nonetheless. Undelicate.
27 She hung onto the sameness that hung
from her neck in the name of a mustard
seed in a plastic ball. And she existed there
— the colour of crowd, and no one said
she didn't belong. Begong, begong, belong
begong in the music of the traffic and the
washing machine rhythm of her newly
cleansed soul, she waited for the city's bus.
It wasn't any monstrous sin she
had committed. Nothing more
serious than the sin of a young
girl living with her grandmother
but the grandmother dying before
the girl becomes a respectable
spinster. A useless barren deserted
piece of antiquity. Like a faded
porcelain tea set afeared and on
the verge of breaking.
And thus with the odds so against — her
grand-dear dying — shy had she cracked
her soul. A small black book had saved
her, as small as a sparrow. Not the book
at the police, one at another station where
people made bargains on things you didn't
sign, like promises and souls.
28 Well that was fine, that was
easy, that was fine. So here she
was with no one — no one — not
even herself almost, knowing how
she had worn her godney's flowered dress of silk, to sack-in her one.
"If you'll give me a kissey kiss kiss,
I'll let you have the button jar or
the  antique  stick  man  or old
grandpa's   telescope."   Just  these
wiles did the old  lady wheedle.
Thus they passed their softly hours
and collected the seasons until on
her 17th, Shellca was a girl alone.
Until a man came, he was just a man.
Oh he told all the usual about matching
her pearls of teeth with thirty-two pearls,
the cautious flame of her hair with red
jewels, and the rouge of her cheeks with
rubies as he handed her an apple. It was
only Shellca left alone but she had many
things  to  do,  like weeding garden,  and
more housework and besides she had all
her death-jewels. Until he promised her a
baby she was busy.
At least that was the piece she
had told her saviors. She knew
if  she  was  going to be  really
saved, that is practically saved like
money, and a job after, and someone to adopt the baby, it would
be best to have a romantic salvation. There would need to be some
basic facts:  however, nothing of
the vulgar confession type — a
certain gentleness must be there
for the uniqueness of romance.
She then stepped onto the bus and
smiled gently to herself about the so-so
begetter of her risen child and how she
ELIZABETH was like him now, the colour of crowd.
LUCKHURST And what a crowd he was.
pOT? Your wise eyes falling through me, I become
Kaleidoscopic, nerves of turning light
Breaking to stars and prisms of delight
In the dark mirror of my body's drum.
Then if I lie beneath your ear, you charm
My farthest silence to a whirl of song,
To silver fanfare or prophetic gong . . .
And when your sunlight hands descend, they warm
My world like spring returning; every hill
Flaunting its blossom for your April mood
Is bold with incense; as your seasons move,
I grow, am thick with gold; and longing still
To meet your hunger with its rarest food,
Unfold the ripened harvest of my love.
Going up in space was climbing back in time. rVTOUNT1 A TW
Tasting the vanished seasons one by one
We rose from August streets, through foxgloved June
To spellbound snows of April, and a clime
Primal as youth's return. Immense with love
We saw the land unfolding miles about us,
Peak after peak; and swore though seasons rout us
No actual retreat should wholly move
Us from that vernal crest Yet, our descent
Saw foxgloves dwindling up their stems, and spent,
While salmonberry drooped with autumn blood;
Where rusting maples hissed despair, we stood
Aghast; and from the gray sea-level town
Time with a roar rose up and washed us down.
30 Darling, remember the ship. Do not forget
Our spellbound ship, we at the porthole leaning
While islands drifted west, and overhead
In the midnight sky stars were suddenly sliding,
And of the restless turning universe, we
Its dark sweet centre only did not move . . .
Then, lax with the full-stop lassitude of love,
We breathing lay, lulled between sky and sea,
Deep in the safety of that cabinned time
Unfolding in the loosened lap of sleep.
Darling, remember the ship; the hushed tide,
Islands and stars all night around us moving.
Only forget how from the punctual east
Streaming to meet us came our mainland morning.
Now summer like a tide slips down my world;
I cry and clutch a drying golden foam,
Yet know these bare boughs sketch the shape of doom.
Now must my leaping animal joys lie curled
In caves of being; all my green blood run
To bole and root, escape the hardening weather,
While winged thoughts, slipping the season's tether,
Flock to grooves drawn by the southward sun,
And leave a silent land. Yet we are men,
Life does not end for us when love recedes;
Somehow we make our journey through these white
And bitter days; though low the axis lean,
Still the world rolls, and in our punctual deeds
Nothing is lost but music, warmth and light.
3i Boxing Day
The child-feast past, and family gods appeased,
Comes time for the gift of tenderness and remembrance.
Now what jewelled case receives enough
Of love for you, this lonely boxing-day?
I can send only a frail paper of words,
Inadequate as a scatter of flakes caught
From Ontario snow-fields; may your thirst accept it;
Or a handful of needles resinous with the evergreen
Of my desire: do they sting your senses too
To a forest-blaze? Or a bundle of sweet moss
Burrowed from the tundra-floor of memory
To ease your bed. This gift of words goes ghosting
Over a cold continent, in a starving season,
Recalling the body and blood of our summer love.
There always was a line that broke my life.
This line: a neatly centered countryside
Was where all life should be — at least they said,
These people who had watched the clock too long-
But on the sides was where the flowers grew
And flowers were either weeds or they were few.
Thus I used my life by walking rails.
One foot before the other, rocket style,
I loved the touch of two feet on one track,
Content with hope there might be other sides.
(I'd heard of China underneath the lawn.)
Then I slipped and had to look aside,
And there within my world another chance.
My two feet had their day: there were two earths,
And I might walk, quite balanced, on the poles.
But now the rails are modern, Freud-inspired.
There is a choice; take comfort, no advice.
This other rail is shiny, topped with wood,
And though the books say 'deadly' it is good—
It runs the trains that rock us, trains that tear
The lawns which once kept China from our hands.
Though we touch the rail it carries on
Its world of racing trains, but ends our song.
And she was strong.
Her muscles were the envy of old trees;
Those eyes were coins which could buy out the moon.
Her dinners were apparent on her face
For she never left a bite to feed
Whatever crawls about while we're asleep,
Yet her table was a kingdom of debris:
String, comb, spools — toys to please a cat.
And she took up her life at forty-three.
Perfume, shoes and scarves grew on her floors—
Exotic flowers lacking serious pots.
As she played well with life, it played with her:
Eyes and muscles, fearful of the floor,
Confused it with a table or the door;
She had her bedding fastened to the wall.
Her progress was the matter of a rule
Learned as invented. She invented well,
And there was no lack of teaching:
Who knew what rule might make tomorrow's grace?
Then her eyes grew cool, her muscles twitched.
No word was said when, fitful for the door,
Her strongest secret turned up on the floor.
34 THE
On previous days through the window Angelo could see Cinnamon's house
with its high peaked roof, the sleigh in front of the house and Old Art's sons
at the door, looking like two polar bears in their heavy white sweaters. Behind the few houses of the village he could perceive also the Hudson's Bay
Company's warehouse, and very far away, the mine, the broad plain of the
frozen lake, and the woods. But last night it had snowed too much, and he
was staring through the glass in vain.
He rubbed his eyes, put his hand to his forehead, and began to think, his
face flattened against the cold glass, and his eyes closed. He did not remember
what day it was. Maybe it was the third and maybe the fourth. It was not
important enough for him to walk to the other room in order to look at the
calendar on the wall. It did not matter very much whether it was the third,
35 or the fourth. It might also be the fifth or even the second. But it was May.
Some days ago, on the way back from the City Hall he had met Aldo the
Calabrese and Aldo had said to him: "Alb, paesano. How do you like this
spring?" It was snowing and they did not stop to talk. Once home he had
asked Annamaria what day it was, and she had told him that it was the
twenty-sixth of April. So it was spring. But at the City Hall, when he had
gone to ask for a job, once again, they had answered: "Next spring." And
that was more than a week ago. It was spring, yet snow was still falling, and
last night it had snowed more than ever. Thus are Northern winters, he
thought. It reminded him of the times when he was still in Italy and Anna-
maria's letter was late in coming, and he would write that he was angry,
and she would reply that it was not her fault because it had snowed too
much and the plane had come for the mail two days late. In April and
sometimes in May, when over there, in his own country, there was all that
sunshine . . .
There was so much sunshine the day Annamaria left. Peach and almond
trees were in bloom, farmers were working in the fields, and women were
singing folk-songs as they washed clothes along the river. When he got up
in the mornings for his work at the income-tax office, he would stop a little
while beside the window of his home, and look at the road beside the river,
at the hill and the sheep feeding on the hill, small, white, and motionless,
like the plaster ones of the crib at the cathedral. To the right he could see
the vineyard of compar Vito, with the haystack, the big walnut tree, and the
small cherry tree. And on that white road he had spoken to Annamaria
before she left. She was going to the Salatellq country, where archaeologists
were excavating, and he waited for her near the edge of compar Damiano,
with its flowering hawthorn. Only a few words, while Maddalena seemed to
look elsewhere.
"I hear that you are leaving."
Her eyes were lowered, and she answered swiftly and lowly:
"My father has decided so. You know that I can't stay."
"And you are glad to leave. You told others that your brother has there,
ready for you, a big house with an electric kitchen, and a washing machine
better than that of Donna Clelia . . ."
She raised her face suddenly, and there were tears in her eyes. She only
said: "Oh, Angelo, what do I care about America?" It seemed that she
wished to cry more, then she added: "I will write to you, Angelo. And you
promise to write to me. You will write me always, day by day . . ."
He was going to seize her hand and kiss it, but Maddelena said: "Someone
is coming." Angelo turned, and at the curve of the road he saw Bosco,
Natale, and the assessor Santoverde coming. Annamaria gave him a long
look, and he realized that he must leave. He walked forward reluctantly,
and Bosco, Natale, and Santoverde overtook him. He was thinking of going
36 back to Annamaria, but more people were coming. Also Claretta, Mad-
dalena's aunt, was coming and Annamaria and Maddalena went with her.
He walked ahead of them up to the zone of the excavations where there
were many people, and the police did not allow anyone to go closer. But he
could not say even a word to Annamaria. And in the following days, too, they
could only look at each other. Until Annamaria and her parents went to
Rome for their immigration visas, and came back to town and said that
everything had gone well. They left a few days later, on a clear, limpid
morning with a high sun. Annamaria, her father and mother, stepped, weeping, on the pullman, and a crowd was there to see them off. But he was
holding aloof, leaning on the wagon of Seppe the Woodman, and in the
sky there were some child-kites, high and motionless, and a strange wind
was whispering past one's ears. Then the pullman lurched forward, and for
him nothing more remained. From that day, each time he was to see a bus
leaving, he would feel as though the bus were taking something of himself
with it. It seemed that nothing had been left for him, but somewhere close
to the horizon, far away. He did not know if to the right, or to the left, but
certainly near the horizon. And look to that place close to the horizon: a few
houses, the snow in May, and you that wait for spring because then you will
have a job . . .
Annamaria and the two old ones were sitting close to the stove. Annamaria
was sewing; the old ones were not occupied. From the floor above come the
plaintive cry of a child, and Sara's voice singing a lullaby. The child seemed
to quiet down, but then resumed crying more loudly. Sara did not sing any
longer, but began to shout and curse, saying that this child was a damnation
and never slept and seemed to be born only to cry. As though the worries
she had were not enough, she said, and this damned snow that shrouds all
in darkness . . .
The old man lifted his head; then shrugged his shoulders, resigned. The
old woman raised herself, drank some water, and went back to her old position with her hands on her lap.
"The whole night," she grumbled, "I couldn't close an eye because of him.
I don't know what devil has got into that child."
"Perhaps it is the snow," said the old man, "It makes me nervous too."
"You," said the old woman, "But what do children understand about
snow? What do they know? They don't have worries, they don't have anything. You are nervous because you don't have an orchard to work in, you
can't read. But that fellow, I don't understand why he should cry so much."
Angelo looked at them for a moment, then pressed his forehead to the
glass again. Annamaria stood, walked over to him, and grasped his arm with
both hands. After a while, he said:
"It is May, isn't it?"
"Be calm," she said, "the sun will come again."
37 "If it continues this way, I will go crazy before I see the sun."
She pressed his arm, and whispered in his ear:
"Don't be like that, please. Winters in the north are like this; I told you
so in each letter, and do you remember what you answered? That close to
me you would be happy anywhere in the world, just so long as you were
near me. You told me that in almost each letter, during two long years. Now
that we are together, don't be like this. You shall see the sunshine again
very soon."
He turned to her angrily:
"Now stop it. I'm happy with you, all right; you know it — but in this
situation, waiting for a damn job, being supported by your folks like a
parasite . . ."
She did not say a word; she only put her head on his shoulder and closed
her eyes.
They heard a stamping of feet, then a creaking on the doorstep, and the
door opened. Giose entered, his face dark, not saying a word. Angelo and
Annamaria looked at him then at the old ones. Giose did not look at anyone, but removed his coat, scarf, and gloves, and threw them on the chesterfield. He walked to the corner window, fixed his gaze through the glass, and
there he remained, his hands in his pockets. Sara had come downstairs, giving suck to her child.
The old man stood, and stepped over to Giose. Giose turned, realizing that
everyone was watching him, and, taking one hand out of his pocket and
shrugging his shoulders, said:
"So, I have my holidays too."
He stood for a minute, replaced his hand in his pocket, and strode to the
middle of the room.
"They tell you: 'Sorry, we're afraid we can't keep you working any longer.
We'll call you as soon as there is enough work.' That means, when that guy
who makes it snow pleases. You stare at the boss like a fool, don't say anything, and go away. Wait . . . till springtime."
The old man asked:
"Did they fire many of you?"
"Thirty men. Old and newcomers, it doesn't make any difference. Men
who have been working for six years, like Steve Princen and John Abrahams."
Again they were silent. After a while Giose took a cigarette, lit it, and
lounged smoking in the corner, motionless, staring at the window. The old
man shook his head and went back to his chair. Sara glanced at Angelo, and
Annamaria walked to the stove. Suddenly the child began to cry, and Sara
shook him nervously and cried out:
"Stop it, stop it. Hush! Must we listen to you too!"
Angelo looked at Annamaria and whispered in her ear:
38 "Look, look at the way they're all watching me! As though everything was
my fault. As if Giose had been fired because of me — I can't stand it . . ."
She did not answer: he went upstairs. Sara watched him, then she turned
to look at her husband who was still in the corner, staring blankly at the
window, and said:
"Yesterday I paid for the light — I still have nine dollars left. We shall
have to get those few dollars we still have in the bank. We have to make a
payment on the house in not more than two days: today is the fifth already."
Nobody answered, but she went on. "And suppose we have some trouble:
shall God keep them from us? Suppose one of the children gets sick, like last
year, where shall we find the money?"
"Sara," said Annamaria, "don't begin to look for darkness. We are not
in Italy, we are in Canada. And even if everything does go wrong, there
are still thirty dollars a week from the unemployment office."
"Ha, the unemployment office! Thirty dollars a week. One hundred and
twenty dollars a month. And take off a hundred dollars for the rest of the
payments on the house, and see if you have a living. There are eight people
to feed, including your husband who doesn't live by love alone."
Annamaria stared at her, then answered calmly:
"Sara, I know that you have worries. But don't use every opportunity to
attack him."
"Oh, so now I mustn't even talk! But whose fault is this predicament?
Mine, perhaps? Sick or well, we can keep going. It is my man who works.
We have two children, and your parents, it would be enough. And yet we
must feed you people: you and your husband, who knows only how to waste
his time . . ."
"Sara, please, don't start again. I told you that you won't lose a penny.
This is only a temporary situation for us; we will repay you for everything."
"The same story, we will repay you for everything. But what are you saying? Whom will you repay? Where will you get the money?"
"Next spring, Sara, next spring you'll see. Try to understand, Sara: it is
only a question of time for us. It isn't his fault. He wanted to do too much.
Didn't you see how he went to work in the mine with that lamp on his head
and the rock-drill? He, who has experienced nothing but his books at the
income-tax office. He got sick; is it his fault? If he had worked for six
months, he would have a subsidy from the unemployment office. You know
all this. Why do you refuse to understand that things have gone wrong, and
that's all? Please don't act like that. It is May already, and soon we'll have
the sun. Angelo will have his job at the City Hall, they promised it to him;
and when the baby is born we'll move to Edmonton. There will be many
things for Angelo to do there. There are so many light jobs, the stores, so
many offices, and perhaps he'll find a job in the income-tax offices. It's his
job. We'll have our good times too. Times won't always be bad. So many
39 immigrants have had a difficult time in their first few years in Canada. But
things change. Remember Luigino Salanca: after he came to Montreal in
1928 he almost starved for four years. But now, who knows how much money
he has? Do you remember the car he had when he went back to visit the
"Oh, so your husband will make as much money as Luigi Salanca: say
it, why don't you? And you will come and take us to the city in a Cadillac.
But try to understand that with a man like him you can only starve. As a
matter of fact, we are supporting you now. We are good people. You see
that you are still here, and you will still be here when the baby is born. The
baby — one more mouth to feed. Nice and easy — eat, drink, sleep, and
make love on our money. And make more children. Like in a hotel. You
have a brother who is far too good a man, and even more stupid than good.
Otherwise . . . But everything comes to an end, and if he will not turn
you out, one of these days I shall do it."
Giose turned to look at his wife, and said:
"Sara, stop it. These are old, worn stories, and I don't like to hear them
But the old man got to his feet suddenly, and turning to face his daughter-
in-law, said:
"But surely, send them away, turn both of them out of this house. You
miserable wretch." He said to Annamaria, "You dare to talk. As though the
troubles you gave us weren't enough. First in our home town, when you
gave people occasion to talk about you, — the mother of that good-for-
nothing who said she would never allow him to marry you, because their
family was far better than ours, and then here, when you refused to marry
Al Munro. Miserable girl, now you could be in a house — a larger and more
comfortable one than this, and you would have helped your brother keep
his job. Crazy daughter I have! To reject the boss of a mine . . . But you
call him from Italy, and he comes. At first he says he will do any work, but
then he says he is sick, and eats your money up, and now is supported by
your brother . . ."
"Is it a fault to be ill?" broke in Annamaria, almost crying. "He wanted
to do too much."
"Quiet, you are shameless!" He was grinding his teeth in a rage and shaking his fist. "He intended to come here and be a God. His jacket with a pleat
in the rear, and a crease like a knife-edge in his trousers, and his lovely white
shoes. He was expecting people to feed him out of reverence. He intended
to be a God without working, only talking."
"He pretended to know English," added Sara. "He pretended to know
English because he studied it in school. As his mother's slanderous tongue
used to say, he spoke English like an American. On the contrary, he doesn't
understand it yet, when people speak to him. He takes out a book and looks
40 for the words, and he doesn't know how to say them! He knows English!
Your brother who has only grade four, knows it better. And your brother,
who is a holy man, buys a house and supports us all: including him, the
professor of English . . ."
"What a good-for-nothing you married," went on the old man. "People
like him don't get anywhere here. Because America is not a country for fools,
and one must work hard in order to live."
They heard a door open violently, a noise on the steps and Angelo rushed
downstairs. His face was pale, and he didn't look at anybody. He went to
the wall-hanger, took his hat and coat and threw them on. Annamaria asked
him, scared:
"Where are you going?"
He did not anwser, he did not even look at her. Suddenly she started to
cry and took him by the arm: "Where do you want to go? Where do you
want to go?"
Again he did not answer. He only stared at Sara and at the old man and
rapidly went to the door. Annamaria was still crying, trembling. He released
himself, opened the door and went out.
It was snowing.
He did not know where to go, and almost thoughtlessly he directed himself towards O'Callaghan's, the beer parlour; and when he got there, he
stopped at the door, as though to scrutinize the room beyond the window
panes. The glass was almost half covered by snow, which was less dense
further up, letting one see, in the red area formed by the ice and the light,
moving shadows; flat and vague. A subtle and confused noise reached him,
of the same degree of vagueness as the shadows: like a noise from a great
distance, or only the echo of a noise. Some guitar notes drifted by, as through
a dense veil; and Angelo thought that Aldo the calabrese must be inside. He
shrugged the snow from his shoulders, pushed the door open, and walked in.
A strong yellow-red light and a smell of fried onions invested him. He stood
aside the door and surveyed the room.
The room was full of miners sitting in groups of three, four and five
around small round tables upon which sat bottles of beer. To his left a group
of Ukrainians laughed aloud and shouted in their language. One of them
was singing a song, attempting to accompany himself by clapping his hands.
The others were swinging their bottles in ragged time to his song, and the
beer slopped over on their clothing. A tall and well-built Mountie was standing in the corner and watching the proceedings with a cat-like smile. Towards the back of the room two drunk men were arguing: one wanted to
leave, the other wanted his companion to stay on and drink some more. To
the right, there was a group of Italians gathered around Aldo the calabrese,
who had a guitar. Aldo's face was small and lean and dark, and the guitar,
big in his hands, was smooth and shining, like ivory. There was Carlo Cisti,
41 with his head shaved almost clean; the two from the North of Italy whose
names Angelo couldn't remember; Gioacchino Salandra, the Foggiano; and
Filippo Uliva, sitting almost apart, nearly lying in his chair, big and round,
with his chin nodding on his chest. Aldo was going idly from one chord to
another on his guitar, as though looking for a tune. Gioacchino Salandra
was talking to the two men from the North of Italy, and Filippo Uliva sometimes added a word, but without moving, or lifting his head. Angelo took a
few steps, and paused near the main desk. He was watching the waiters who
jerked about, always with the same gestures, the same words; busy removing
empty bottles and replacing them with full ones. He was dwelling, sadly, on
the waiters and their jobs and on the fact that they were not supported by
anyone; and of the story told to him at the City Hall . . .
A waiter walked up to him and said something to him. He did not understand and said pardon me. The waiter explained that if he were patient he
would soon have a free chair, and added that when the weather was like
this, the hall was always crowded. Angelo smiled and nodded in agreement.
Aldo's guitar seemed to find a tune of its own accord; a fast, simple,
rhythmical tune. Angelo turned to the table at which the Italians were
gathered and realized that they were watching him. Uliva, even, had turned
his head, remaining, however, in the same position. They smiled and Aldo
stopped playing and beckoned to Angelo, who went over to them.
"Hello," explained Aldo, "I bet them that if I played a certain tune, you
would turn your head." He told the others: "When we worked together at
the mine, he always wanted me to play this tune at lunch time."
"I'm glad to see you," Uliva intoned, without changing his position. "Do
you feel better?"
"Not so bad. Better than before, at any rate."
"It will be good for you to have come here," put in Gioacchino Salandra.
"We're trying to have a little fun."
"Have a chair," Aldo offered. Then, as though continuing with Gioac-
chino's thought, he added: "When you have no job, it's good to have a drink
and some fun."
Angelo had turned to look for a chair. At the nearest table, the two drunk
men were still arguing: one of them had got up and was swaying to the
door, the other had seized a full bottle and was hurrying after him, crying
C'mon C'mon! Then he stopped, thoughtful, threw the bottle on the table,
swore, and walked to the door. Nobody cared. Uliva said: "Take that chair."
Angelo smiled and reached for the chair. The two from the North of Italy
made room for him and Angelo sat between them. Uliva had signalled to
the waiter, and he was coming to them, carrying a bottle of beer for Angelo.
Aldo asked him:
"Well, how are things going?"
"Not too badly. If only this weather would break . . ."
42 Uliva paid the waiter, took the bottle and handing it to Angelo, said:
Angelo began to make a protest: "Actually . . ."
"Actually, what?" Uliva asked. "Drink and relax. Don't worry about work,
don't worry at all."
"How about the job?" Gioacchino asked. "Find anything?"
"Nothing. I've been promised one at the City Hall, working with Horsh
Schmidt, the German. The same kind of work, in the parks. But since this
weather began . . ." Angelo replied.
"Well, this, too, will pass." And, turning to the others, Gioacchino added:
"But at times I think that this is a strange country, America. You work and
work, but often, for one reason or another, they say goodbye to you and off
you go to look for another job . . ."
"That's America, that's America," said Carle Cisti.
"Well, not exactly America," contradicted one of the pair from the North
of Italy, "so is the North."
"Not only the North," added Gioacchino. "It's somewhat the same everywhere. Rather, in the North it is the weather, but in some other places there
are real crises about work. Here's the letter my cousin in Montreal wrote to
me. Look. There are vast numbers of unemployed, including my cousin. He
has a wife, and three children, and asks if there is work here for him! He
says he would come alone, leaving his family in Montreal. But what can I
do for him, when there is a lack of jobs for us, too? I heard that it is the
same in Vancouver. It's so everywhere. Believe me, America is a nice place,
but for the American-born. That fellow makes a living like a lord, and has
a big car, and everything he wants. But we will always be poor and miserable. You make some money; you make~4t by working hard. And if you go
back to Italy you spend it in a few days, and are back at the beginning. And
if you stay here, you work like a dog; but what kind of a life do you lead?
Here, for example, the only place to go for a bit of relaxation is O'Callag-
han's . . . While your wife whines after you that beer is fifty cents a bottle,
and you will drink all the money! This, in my mind, is living like a dog."
Angelo was watching Gioacchino with a vague smile; but his mind was
elsewhere. The tune Aldo had played, reminded him of many things. And
he, as during the lunch hour at the mine, went with the tune and remembered ....
It was a summer evening, about twelve o'clock. There were only a few
people in the town square. He and Lello Di Tonto were sitting on the steps
of the church, breathing the fresh air, and Lello was telling about how much
fun he had had the day before with the daughter of Maria "belladonna",
whom he had waylaid in the haystack while her mother was down watering
the garden. Vincenzo Adagio, Saro "the horse" and Lorenzo Cupu-Cupu
passed by. Lorenzo had a guitar slung over his shoulder and called out that
43 they were going for a serenade. Lello said: "Let's follow them." They got
up and went after the trio: at the corner of the City Hall, Lorenzo Cupu-
Cupu stopped, lifted his head and began to sing at the top of his lungs. But
suddenly he stopped, and exclaimed: "Hey! The Chief Constable!'" and
started to run towards the outskirts of the town, like a rabbit, with Vincenzo
Adagio and Saro "the horse" hotly contesting his lead. The Chief Constable
and Constable Caroppi appeared two blocks away; they looked toward the
City Hall, then entered the Cafe of Solitro. Later Lorenzo Cupu-Cupu reappeared, being careful not to be seen by any constables, and said that he
did not feel like singing any more. Because he did not like the idea of spending the night in jail, and said that Saro "the horse" had suggested that they
serenade his friend Ginetto "Kiss-your-aunt" who had only recently married — Lorenzo Cupu-Cupu! What a strange name! . . .
"I tell you," said Carlo Cisti, "winter is only a pretext. Six years ago, just
after I came, the winter was worse than this one, but I had a job at the
mine just the same. Not the day after I came, of course, I had to fill in an
44 application first, and you know that it is like a mania here to tell you come
back. I didn't want to wait, and I got a job at the Syrian's: washing dishes
and cleaning at his hotel. I was paid only ten dollars a week, plus room and
board. It was better than nothing. But I worked there only a few days, because I got a call from the mine that I had my job. As far as I can remember,
that year, nobody was fired. But this year! There must be more than this
pretense of the weather."
"That's what I think, too," agreed one of the men from the North of
Italy, "It depends on politics."
"Bravo!" cried Carlo Cisti. "It depends on the elections."
"Actually, I don't see your point," Gioacchino interrupted. "What has
politics to do with the mine?"
"Wait a minute, and you'll see," said Carlo. "Things are this way: the
new government is dishing out anti-American propaganda. Don't you read
the newspapers? Well then, who are the owners of the mine? Aren't they
from the States?"
"Ah" Gioacchino breathed. "Now I see! But, look . . ."
"And this is an old story," Cisti resumed. "This new government wants
to be too smart, but I think it had better be careful, because what if the
United States takes things too seriously and pulls a few strings? In a few
days Canada has an unemployment hot-spot. Not only this mine, but a lot
of factories and firms in Canada are owned by Americans."
Uliva had listened carefully, not interrupting. After taking a careful look
at Angelo, he said, "Drink, what are you thinking about?"
"Oh, nothing, thanks." Angelo replied. He took a few swallows of his
beer, smiled at Uliva, and appeared to take an interest in the discussion led
by Cisti. But his mind was elsewhere . . .
Two days before he was to leave Italy, he went to see his father at the vineyard. His father had wanted him to see the vineyard once more before he
left, and perhaps was hoping that Angelo would change his mind. Perhaps
he would have said to him: "Look, what an abundance! You cannot leave
all this and go to a place where you don't know what you'll find, or what
you'll do." But he only told him that the vineyard was a richness, and asked
if he were not sorry to leave it. Angelo answered that, yes, he was sorry, but
did not say that he was not going to leave anymore. Then his father threw
his jacket over his shoulders, took the jar, pail, and prune-scissors, and the
two of them walked towards the town. On the way they met Nicola Picuzzo,
and stopped to talk for a while. Nicola told Angelo that he was a fool to leave
a vineyard like that and go to Canada. Nicola had been in Canada in 1931
and said that he had worked as a farmer in Saskatchewan and Manitoba,
and that the jobs were few, hard, and poorly paid. Angelo's father had
watched him, but Angelo did not say that he was not leaving any more.
They took leave of Nicola, and continued to town, in silence. Now it was
45 dark, the cicadas did not sing anymore, and the crickets in the hedges were
chirping — "cree-cree." When they got to town, the young daughter of
Gigliola was pitching dirty water into the gutter and singing a tune, that of
Lorenzo Cupu-Cupu's serenade . . .
It was just like coming back from a dream. He looked at Cisti and said:
"Do you think that if I go to the Syrian I might get a job?"
"I don't know," said Cisti. "Depends. Maybe he hasn't got anybody; depends on the business. Maybe there are dishes to wash, maybe not. This
winter is tough for everybody. Try, if you think . . . But, I mean, you have
a wife, and your relatives, and ..."
All the others were watching Angelo, wondering; but he prevented their
"No, nothing wrong with Giose. It's not that they don't want me to stay
there. But you know ... I don't want to be supported any longer ... I
want to do something . . ."
They were still watching him; Cisti said:
"Well, try. It's a tough winter, but you never know!"
"I think I'll go right away, before it gets dark," Angelo said.
"It's still snowing, isn't it?" said Salandra.
"Maybe not so much. Look at those guys who just came in!" said one of
the two from Northern Italy.
"Have another beer," said Uliva.
"Yea, thanks. But I guess I'll go soon. By the way, could you do me a
favour?" he asked Aldo. "It's on your way, anyhow. Tell my wife I'm going
to the Syrian's for the job. Will you?"
"Sure, I will," said Aldo. "Now, let's have another drink . . ."
Later he left, and walked toward the Syrian's hotel, on the little hill. And
while walking, it seemed to him that he was again walking along the white,
dusty road to the vineyard, with his father by his side, and the crickets in
the hedge chirping — cree-cree. The tune Aldo played rang through his
head, and every once in a while the name of Lorenzo Cupu-Cupu came to
his mind. The name had a strange effect on him. It made him laugh aloud
suddenly, and wish to repeat it out aloud: Cupu-Cupu . . . Lorenzo Cupu-
Cupu! But he also felt a need to weep and thought he had drunk too much.
At the Syrian's a fat, dark, baby-faced woman told him that Mr. Naber
had just gone out. He asked whether she knew where Mr. Naber had gone,
and she replied that maybe he had gone to the Bay, but she wasn't sure. In
the meantime Angelo might have a seat and wait, or he might come back
later. Angelo said thank you and sat on a bench along the wall, near two
bearded fellows who were smoking and talking. One of them, with a long,
thin, goat-bearded face spoke in a thin, cracking voice, only stopping from
time to time to puff on his cigar; while the other one, enveloped in a huge
caribou skin, was leaning against the wall, his legs astride, his cigar in his
46 mouth, and answering, sometimes nodding, and sometimes saying yea!
Angelo listened, and despite the fact that the pronunciation of the man who
was speaking was foreign, was able to understand what he was talking about.
He smiled, and for a while forgot about Annamaria; he had looked back
twice, and she was there, crying, behind the glass of the door; then he had
turned at the corner of the drug store . . . But now he smiled: he could
understand English quite well, better than he would have thought, and this
surely meant that things were going to change . . . Now he could understand enough for a good job — a job where one must use his mind more than
his hands ... If only spring would come! He could start with the job in
the parks. Everyone had told him: in spring there are many jobs, and almost
everyone works at the mine. They don't bother about work in the parks:
one can't earn as much as at the mine. But for him that job would be enough,
and he would work with Horsh Schmidt, the blond, and in some way, pretty
German, who was very sick and worked only in the summer while during
the winter he lived on the unemployment subsidy. The job in the parks is
not so bad for a beginning: one can make a living, and it is an easy, light
job. At the first payment, he would rent the two rooms at the Gutbergs, and
before the next winter he would fly to Edmonton with Annamaria and the
baby. Now he knew the language, and in Edmonton it would be easy to get
work in a store, maybe at the Hudson Bay. Giose had said that the Bay has
a store in Edmonton that has no end: and he would have a job, because
there are many Italians in Edmonton, and in a big store they need clerks who
speak more than one language — especially for Italians, who never learn
English well. He saw himself in the huge store, which he imagined as a sort
of long hall, all glass and marble, like the station at Rome, and he would
walk around, asking the customers: "May I help you?" In the course of
time, he thought, he would make some money. The first times one can't ask
too much. But after a while, when he knew English perfectly, both to speak
and write it, he would find a job at the Income-tax office, it was his job. It
would be almost like the Income-tax offices of Corona, with the difference
that here they write in another language and work with dollars. He would
certainly have a good salary at the Income-tax office. He could really be
the Americano then . . . Like Luigi Salanca when he went back to visit his
home town, with his shiny bald head, a tie with owls on it, a Cadillac, and
telling everybody that America was the land of gold! But if I go back to
visit the town, I won't be silly like Luigi Salanca: a tie with owls and all
those airs! . . . There are many beautiful ties in Canada, not just ties with
owls on them. But let's forget about ties, for now: the choice of ties will be
the last thing. Although they are things one must think about; it is not
pleasant to have people laughing at you . . . How they laughed at Luigi
Salanca that day behind the Cafe of Solitro . . . there were Ginetto Viani,
Saro "the horse" and Lorenzo Cupu-Cupu! — Lorenzo Cupu-Cupu! . . .
47 What a strange name!
He laughed aloud, and the goat-bearded one turned to look at him. Angelo
would have said sorry, very sorry, that he wasn't laughing at them; but the
goat-bearded one had already resumed speaking, and the other saying yea!
They spoke of the weather, the north; then about an Indian who used to live
a few miles out of town, on the opposite shore of the lake, and who had predicted at the first snow that this winter would be long and hard, for he had
calculated it from the flight of the birds and the migrations of caribou. They
said that the Indian was dead: an RCMP patrol had found him a short
distance from town after they had gone in search of him as his dogs had
brought the sleighs into town unmanned. Angelo remembered. Last summer,
a few days after he had arrived, he, Annamaria, Sara, and Giose had gone
for an outing and, skirting along the lake by car, they had gone to the far
shore, where this Indian was living in a primitive cottage. He remembered
the man, who had a typically Indian profile; he was tall and thin, and wore
spectacles. That day they had sat in the shade of a large tree, had offered a
Coca-Cola to the Indian, and had talked. The old man was very friendly
and talkative. He told how he had killed bears face to face with a knife, how
he fished in winter by sawing a hole on the lake, and then told some stories
about the Trout-Rock tribe: the tribe that came to town to sell caribou
meat. He said that he had nothing to do with them, as he belonged to another tribe of which he and his wife, who was now living in British Columbia,
were the sole survivors ....
The Syrian entered, stamping his feet. The two men stopped talking.
"Hi, chief!" said the goat-bearded one.
The other man nodded his greeting.
The Syrian said:
"A bad winter, eh, folks! Why don't you go back to sleep?"
"Who can stay in bed?" snorted the goat-bearded one. "When I work in
the woods I never sleep past six."
The Syrian put a parcel on the desk; the woman took it and indicated
Angelo. The Syrian frowned and said:
"Yes, Sir . . ."
Angelo walked up, sent a swift glance around himself, then said quickly,
in a low voice:
"I can work for you, if you only give me food and a place to sleep. I can
wash dishes, clean the rooms, do any other kind of work. If you will just
give me food and a place to sleep. I won't ask for a penny more."
The Syrian frowned for a moment, then answered:
"I'm afraid I can't help you. I do those jobs myself — and the woman,"
he said, indicating her.
Angelo stood looking at him, without speaking again. The Syrian shrugged
his shoulders:
48 "Bad times, aren't they, pal?" he said. "It's really hard to find a job.
Everyone is waiting for spring. If it was warm, perhaps I could help you;
but when the weather is like this, there is nothing to do. In summer there
is an occasional engineer here, a devil with money to spend; and there are
a few dishes to wash and a room to clean. But in the winter you see only
guys like those there: and until spring comes they can't go back to work in
the woods and can't even pay me the board. Bad times, pal. I'm awful sorry,
but I'm afraid there's nothing I can do for you. If you're still interested,
come back when you see a little sun, and we'll see."
Angelo said thank you numbly and walked to the door, and when he
turned to close it, he saw the Syrian, the two men, and the woman staring
at him . . .
It was not snowing any more. There was only a wind that seemed to whip
the face. Angelo stopped, his hands in his pockets: to the left he could see
the mine and the woods, blanketed in snow; before him was the road leading to the village; to the right the lake — white, smooth, and clean. On the
opposite shore there were more trees, and there he stood staring, as though
looking for something . . . Walking along the shore, on the road, one would
come out on the other side: at that point, where one could see the small,
vague bay, there was the cabin of that Indian. He stood staring in that
direction — astonished and amazed . . . Last summer they had stopped
the car there and walked up to the cottage. All things considered, it took
not more than twenty minutes to get there, and if the car had gone at less
than forty miles an hour, twenty minutes make fifteen miles. But perhaps
the car had gone even slower; the road was not good, and perhaps they had
driven at less than forty miles per hour. Maybe it was only eight or ten miles
from here to the bay, and it seemed so far only because of all the snow. If
one walked straight across the lake it would be even closer. Maybe less than
five miles, that is, about eight kilometers. As far as from his town to the
station. That was not very far. He didn't get very tired the day when he was
doing his military service and he had a few days leave and it was Sunday so
there was no bus service and he had walked all the way from the station to
the town. He was in military dress, and when he came into town the first
people he had met were Gino Di Siena and Lorenzo Cupu-Cupu. Lorenzo
Cupu-Cupu; damn him! Always him!
So one can walk eight kilometers, even in this terrible cold, he resolved.
But . . . it seems that I'm not going to do a good thing — / get there and
then ... 7 don't think there was a lock on the door — no, just a wooden
hold — and of course there will be something to eat there — but what —
who knows what that old fellow ate — puah! — well, if I don't like it, I
don't have to eat it — it won't kill me to go without food for one or two
days — no just one day — tomorrow I will come back to town and do some
shopping at Horton's — Horton is a nice fellow, he'll give me credit — I'll
49 tell him that I have a job in the parks as soon as spring comes, with Schmidt,
and he'll give me some credit — just until spring . . .
He began to trudge through the snow, leaving deep foot-prints. The snow
was soft and cushioning, and was pleasant to walk upon; but the wind was
terrible, and pierced through clothing and flesh, to the bones. He walked in
a rapid, even step, his face down, his coat collar up, and after a while he
noticed that, in time with his step, the tune of Lorenzo Cupu-Cupu buzzed
in his mind. La la la la la la la . . . The tune had been in his mind all the
time, and he had just now noticed it. La la la la lalala . . . He felt a wish
to hum it, but restrained himself; to sing now would be strange, not apt, not
respectful, something like a sacrilege: like one doesn't sing when accompanying a dead person to the cemetery. A dead person? What has a dead person
to do with it now? He started worrying. But he was not superstitious and as
a defiance, would have liked to sing . . . la la la la . . . He opened his
mouth, but the icy wind made his lips harsh and dry, and he closed it and
thought, damn this devilish wind, it is colder than one thinks at first. He
stopped for a moment and turned to look back. The Syrian's place was
pretty far, but he could still see the line of trees along the village road. He
thought of Annamaria as though she were still behind the door, crying. Once
evening came, and realizing that he wouldn't be back that night, she would
plead with Giose to go to the Syrian's to look for him. And perhaps Giose
would go: Giose was a good man, even if he did let Sara influence him. And
suppose Giose went to the Syrian's and then had to go home to tell Annamaria that he was not there? Annamaria would be frightened, and cry, and
tremble all night for fear of what had happened to him. He looked at the
road on his left . . . What if he went back? And Sara, and the old ones?
The old ones always by the stove watching you: watching you as though
you were a criminal? They would say to Annamaria: "Your honey now
proves to be a little bit unbalanced!" Not only a parasite, but also unbalanced; unbalanced, that is to say, crazy. No, he couldn't go back. Giose
wouldn't go to look for him. Annamaria wouldn't say anything, not until
evening, and seeing that he wasn't back yet, she would think: "He will be
at the Syrian's. The Syrian has hired him." And if she asked Giose to go look
for him, Giose wouldn't go. Giose would say: "If he hasn't returned, it
means that the Syrian has kept him." Maybe Giose wouldn't even go the
next day. He would say again: "If he hasn't got back, it's clear that the
Syrian has hired him." But the next day Angelo would go back and tell them
that the cottage of the Indian was a nice place to stay, and that he intended
to stay there until spring. He would have Sara and the old ones understand
that he was happier to live in that cabin, alone, like a dog, happier than he
would be with them. And they couldn't think that he was a parasite any
He had now been walking for over an hour, but he couldn't see the cottage
50 yet. He was afraid that he had mistaken the direction, but thought that he
couldn't be very far out. Maybe the dark sky and the snow were confusing
everything, and the cottage was closer than he thought. He had reached
the shore of the lake, and the difference between the lake and the land was
only that the level of the lake was lower, and that there were no trees. The
little bay should be on the opposite side of the lake, and he had only to walk
in a straight line. He didn't have to stumble over rocky land anymore, because the lake was smooth.
He suddenly felt a strange sensation, as though it were a summer day, and
a taste, like that of ginger ale. It was the trees, the trees on the shore. Last
summer, they had had their lunch on the shore of the lake, under the trees.
He had just come from Italy, and didn't know what ginger ale was, but he
liked it, and that day had drunk two large bottles alone . . . He remembered
that day, and how happy he was . . . Then Sara and Giose went to rest in
the car, as Sara was going to have a baby, and couldn't sit on the hard
ground for long; and Annamaria and he were left alone, lying under the
trees . . .
It's like a dream; your being here. I am so happy. If only you had another kind of job! That work at the mine is not for you."
"No, dear: the job is not so bad. I am young and in good health, I can
do any kind of work."
"Well, honey, you might get sick. You have never worked in a mine, you
have never worked hard physically before."
"Oh, stop it! Your talking like this seems like an evil omen."
"If your mother knew, she wouldn't be happy at all."
"Well, she doesn't know."
. . . dear mama, I found a job quickly. It is a good job: I am at the
mine, and I do the accounts and pay the workmen. Dear mama, everything
is fine, and I am glad I came to Canada . . .
(Be careful of the rock-drill, it might drop on your feet. Boy, who let you
in to work here?)
... dear mama, everyone likes me, especially the boss . . .
(Be careful boy, be careful. Where are your brains? You'll have an accident this way sooner or later. I'd better change your place.)
. . . and the job is light: it's not hard doing the accounts and paying the
workmen, I feel as if I were still at Corona's office: and both Saturdays and
Sundays are free . . .
(Boy, boy! Don't you think you'd better have a rest? All this over-time! I
see that you have just come from the old country; just married and needing
money; but don't overdo it, you might get sick.)
"What are you thinking about, honey? Why don't you answer? Honey,
tell me what you are thinking about. You're thinking about Edmonton
aren't you? Yes, dear; in Edmonton everything will be different. You will
51 find another job that is not so hard, and you will have good pay. You will
like Edmonton, you'll see. In Edmonton all the houses have gardens full of
beautiful flowers. By and by we will own our own home. I told you: it is
not as hard to buy a house here as it is in Italy. Here it is very easy. You just
pay a thousand dollars, and you get a nice house where you can live immediately. You pay the remainder afterwards. You know what Giose has done:
one thousand and five hundred dollars in advance, then a hundred every
month. Down payment, as they say. A little every month. Next year he will
have finished paying and will own a house worth more than five thousand
dollars . . . But our house in Edmonton will be nicer, and we will have a
garden and . . .
He felt some snow flakes on his face, and thought that they might have
fallen from the trees. He moved a few steps away, down the lake, and looked
up. A flake fell softly onto his face, then two more, then more and more. It
seemed that the wind had died down, and he became frightened; they used
to say that when the wind dies down, the snow comes, in his home town. He
wondered if the same were true about the north. If there were a blizzard
. . . . You can't expect anything good from this sky that is the same for
months at a time, always so dark. Now he was really frightened, and began
to think that he had done a foolish thing, trying to get to the Indian's cottage. He wondered why he hadn't thought about the possibility of a heavy
snow-fall before. Perhaps he had drunk too much at O'Callaghan's; to hell
with Filippo Uliva, Aldo, and everyone; he couldn't understand how he had
walked so far without thinking of the possibility of a blizzard . . . He
climbed, running up the bank, and looked toward the village; but of the
few houses it was now possible to see only a faint image of lights and shadows
through a dense grey net. It was snowing harder than he would have thought.
He felt cold all over his body; his knees trembled, and his teeth chattered,
and he knew that it was not only the cold. He thought that it would be nice
to be still at the village . . . But it wasn't wise to turn back: it was too far,
and if the snow fell harder he wouldn't be able to see the lights, and he
might lose his way on the rocky land. It was worse to wait under the trees,
for he would be frozen. The only choice left was to go straight on across the
lake to the opposite shore; then he would easily find the cottage, for he remembered that it was only a few yards from the shore, under the big tree. He
turned again, jumped to the frozen lake top, and started running. He ran
very quickly, and thought that he could go on like that for at least a quarter
of an hour without stopping; but after only a few minutes he was tired and
had to stop to get his breath. The snow was all about him like a whirlwind,
and he couldn't see around himself, except for a little spot of ice and infinite
snow-flakes that shone like crystal. And then the dark: A uniform, deep,
immense dark. All his body was trembling, and he began to cry like a child;
but the tears froze, and he felt a pain in his eyes. He rubbed them with the
52 back of his hand, left his hands on them, and wept. Then he suddenly began
to run again, as fast as he could, and kept hoping that he would stumble and
fall on the opposite bank, and be safe: but after some time he felt too tired
and sank down. It seemed that he wasn't going in the right direction: he
thought he had been veering to the left, toward the open lake. If he were
to go more to the right . . . Going slower he would need more time, but
wouldn't get so tired. He got to his feet and began to run again, in a jogging
step, and slightly to the right; but little by little panic took over again, and
he began running furiously. Then again he began to doubt if he were going
in the proper direction, and veered to the left; then he thought that it was
better to go to the right, and he ran to the right. Now it seemed to him that
he had completely lost the direction, and possibly was going back to his starting point. He turned, and went the other way; but again his doubt made
him turn . . . He could hardly breathe, the snow and wind seemed to suck
the breath out of him, and he waited, turned, coughed, and sobbed desperately. Some saliva came out of his mouth, and turned to ice on his chin. The
snow was now a uniform mass tying earth and sky, a heavy block seeking to
crush everything. He felt weak; cried mama mia, and sank down ....
53 Later, the blizzard had passed; but he did not notice it. His eyes were
closed, and he was dreaming that he was at the mine again, very tired, after
hours of over-time. Steve Princen was putting his coat on, always the last;
Aldo whistled; the boss was waiting at the door, and he was looking at him.
It was as Giose had said, you look at the boss like a fool and don't say a
word. Then he saw Annamaria and Giose and the Syrian between Annamaria and Giose. At Giose's house, the Syrian. Of course, if he hasn't returned, he will be at the Syrian's. It means that the Syrian has hired him.
The boss was there and Schmidt, and Steve Princen. And he wished to talk
to them, and couldn't. He wanted to say "Of course, if he hasn't returned,
he will be at the Syrian's." But it seemed to him that he wasn't at Giose's
anymore, and thought that he was right in not telling them about the Syrian.
It was not necessary to tell Aldo, the two from the North of Italy, Cisti,
Salandra and Uliva: "Of course, if he has not returned, he will be at the
Syrian's." He was at O'Callaghan's now, and Filippo Uliva was sitting at
the other side of the table, opposite to him, still with his head down, and
had a bottle in his hands. Filippo Uliva had his head down, yet was watching
him, and was going to tell him something. Then Uliva said:
"I am Lorenzo Cupu-Cupu."
"Ah, Lorenzo Cupu-Cupu!" he said.
"Ah, Lorenzo Cupu-Cupu!" everyone said.
Everyone was watching him, and he felt a strange terror. He wanted to
run away, but couldn't move. Everyone was watching him, and he was
watching the bottle in Uliva's hands, terrified. He felt himself seized, and
thrust into the bottle. Then a hand closed it, and all was dark.
Three days later a Trout-Rock Indian, on his way to the town, noticed a
mound of snow, strange on the uniformly smooth lake. He stopped his dogs,
went over, kicked the snow, and found him lying on his stomach, his face
cradled in his arms, as though in a pillow. The Indian lifted the still, cold
body onto his sleigh, said uh! to the dogs, and went on his way.
It hadn't been snowing for two days now and there was the sun, a pale,
timid sun that didn't warm; the sun that appears in Northern lands when
it is springtime. And when the Indian drove into the village, everyone was
out in the street. Also Art Cinnamon's sons were standing in the doorway:
they looked up, smiling, and said that winter was over.
54 For Helen and Martha Knox
Hainesville, New Brunswick
Missionaries to Kenya, 1910-1940
The sisters Knox were thirty years in Kenya —
Christ in a cedar chest brought out to smother
bare-naked men, bull gods, eccentric weather,
demented vegetation, the hyena.
Wesleyan gentlewomen having ices,
humming and hemming in a manse rose garden.
Hush, dung-flanked Africa — no servent jargon!
God has His merciful, if daft, devices.
On Seeing a Bear Tied to a Fender
Things die. If I were God perhaps I'd change it.
What's hateful here's not death but disrespect —
as if the bear were beaten
at golf or won at poker. I don't expect
sorrow or poetry. No. Something closer
to what the black, quick, graceless beast
might have experienced,
given a chance and winning. I imagine
him ceremonious, exultant, roaring.
55 Shirley
Shirley at ten prefers my company
noons, when she comes from school,
I from my perjury.
Blustering, bashful like a playlet-skirted
boy, she runs with her knees,
today blurted:
Al, you aren't really grown up, are you really ■
old like my father?
And I said — not really.
56 THE
Stories by
Poems by
Articles & Reviews by
$1.00 a copy, $3.50 a year
has circled from Greenwich Village to Mexico, to California and finally
to British Columbia where he is Executive Secretary of the B.C. Cooperative Union. He has been a printer, private secretary, commercial
artist, farm laborer and pastor. He has previously published both prose
and poetry in a variety of little magazines.
is a switchman in Spokane, Washington, and Poetry Editor of the Art
Press, "the literary voice of the Northwest's interior. (O it's not that
we don't labor with the goddamned thing. But who reads it? No one
in the Northwest's interior.) Well, I love Bach and he was poor. And
57 "The logical sum of Einstein's equations and Vachel Lindsay's experiences is a fifteen thousand dollar a year income for me, if I would
invest in a pair of dark glasses, walk down the street chanting poetry,
distracting the people while my wife and four children pick their
Instead, he writes. His work, previous to Prism's publication, has
appeared in the Art Press.
has fortunately begun to write poetry again after a decade of virtual
silence. She published verse, after her graduation from the University
of Toronto, in Saturday Night and Canadian Poetry Magazine, and
"years ago" won prizes in the Canadian Authors Association 'Dominion
Poetry Contests'. Now housewife and mother, she lives in Willowdale,
teaches at the Vancouver School of Art. He has exhibited his paintings
in Vancouver and Winnipeg, most recently with the B.C. Society of
Artists at the Vancouver Art Gallery. He has won several awards for
his work. He has appeared previously in Prism's Issue Three as our
comes from Port Alberni, B.C. and is now teaching school at Old Fort
Nelson, B.C. She has studied creative writing at the University of
British Columbia. Her previous publication was an essay in Prism's
first issue.
was born in Minnesota. She studied at the University of Iowa where
this year she received her M.A. Her poems have appeared in New
World Writing, Homage to Baudelaire, Accent and Poetry (Chicago).
For two years she was on the editorial staff of Western Review.
is a student at the Vancouver School of Art. She is a native of Edmonton, Alberta, and has worked in production at the C.B.C. in Toronto
and Vancouver.
is a Maritimer by birth. He edits a weekly paper in Hartland, New
Brunswick. He has published poetry and prose in Canadian little
magazines and two chapbooks of his verse have appeared. This is his
third inclusion in Prism's pages.
58 the creative
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is Associate Professor of Mathematics at the University of Alberta. He
was born in Jamaica, studied six years at Trinity College, Cambridge,
where he obtained his M.A. and Ph.D. He has been writing for seven
years, has published fiction in West Indian journals and will soon be
represented with two stories in an anthology, West Indian Stories, to
be published by Faber and Faber late this year.
was born in Italy twenty-six years ago. He came to Canada in 1957
after studying law and journalism at the University of Rome. He
teaches Italian and majors in Spanish and French at the University
of Alberta where he edits the student paper, Gateway, and the literary
magazine, Stet. He has prepared an anthology of Canadian writing
soon to appear in Italy. The Long Winter is his first story written in
English, but others are now completed and will be published soon.
a native of Calgary, is now in the Provincial Civil Service in Regina,
Saskatchewan. He "tried to be educated at the University of Alberta,
but the experiment failed," and he is now "a writer by profession." He
has been an art student at Banff where, "in spite of better intentions,"
he wrote two plays and a number of poems. The poem in this issue
of Prism is his first publication.
whose story, The Travelling Nude, published in Issue One of Prism,
has been awarded by the University of Western Ontario the annual
President's Medal for the best Canadian story.
"There could hardly be a better
way for anyone to foster the
arts than to help ensure the
continued existence of this
magazine, the liveliest, most
interesting and hopeful outlet
for Canadian writers in
Donald Stainsby, Book Page Editor,
The Vancouver Sun, June 25, iq6o.
Don't miss Volume 2 of PRISM
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Aii Aii
I think over again my small adventures
When with the wind I drifted in my kayak
A nd thought I was in danger
My fears
Those small ones that seemed so big
For all the vital things
I had to get and to reach
And yet there is only one great thing
The only thing
To live to see the great day that dawns
A nd the light that fills the world.
Aii Aii
I walked on the ice of the sea
Wondering I heard
The song of the sea
And the great sighing
Of new formed ice
Go then go
Strength of soul
Brings health
To the place of feasting
Aii Aii
The Great sea has set me in motion
Set me adrift
And I move as a weed in the river
The A rch of sky
And mightiness of storms
Encompasses me
And I am left
Trembling with joy.
Aii Aii
I return to my little song
A nd patiently I sing it
A bove fishing poles in the ice
Else I too quickly tire
When fishing upstream
When the wind blows cold
Where I stand shivering
Not giving myself time to wail for them
I go home saying
It was the fish that failed—upstream.
Tj)«><j0nyT5a£ dToittjmttQ.
As Translated by Tegoodligak,
South Baffin Island


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