40

by kvennarad

“The lesson of history is that a monstrosity
is made up of a million-million little banalities.”
A particular girl, let’s say, spends her day thus:
she sets a chair by the window, does her chores,
then sits and watches with delight as the old,
five-pointed sun makes shapes of yellow and
black, each of which is, to her, a word or a sound,
each with its own import, a procession of little
silver animals that step high, each with its own

resonance at which it might shatter, nevertheless
the girls smiles, sings, makes and stores meanings,
is careless of the lives crossing the coloured squares
except for the variations in the picture; maybe she’ll
read a book for a while, but look up at the sound
of a bell or a drumbeat, the brass tantara of a car horn,
a stiletto castanet, the voice of a dog, the tag-and-tell
of birdsong, a childish complaint, a ringtone, hush,
N’awlins Bounce from the sound system in a car

with its windows down so warm it is today that
the driver and she share the same air, her casement
being chinked to let in breeze (she is in a black square,
not a yellow, being on the shady side of her house),
the drop of a coin on the pavement, a greeting,
a growling, movement of air causing a bush to
rasp its leaves together in a hiss, wings making
the noise of bookpages flipping; and thus, at each
interruption, a difference arises in the shade of

the tableau, or its texture; that’s how her day goes,
and yet it’s no more than a piece beyond which
there are more pieces, and let’s not get too damn
philosophical, but how many tableaux of squares
of black and yellow does it take to make a worldmix,
a worldbook, a hook to the whole, some line we
can sprint to and say “Ah yes!” – how many birds
have to fly? And when she’s done for the day, and
when we’re done, and the little silver animals come

again this time in a dream, altered so that they’re
only recognisable in that terrain, we’re too far away
to wonder where it all goes, what happens to all
the particular meanings, the world is not a flipchart,
we don’t bowl down an avenue, we’re not a cartload
of fruit, our name isn’t Carlton, clean water flows
out of a tap, day steps to our doorsteps, drowsy
sparrows wake first, exchange their night coins
for dayfood, the worms run for cover, us too.

__________

jupiterA retreat from the lyric, but not a retreat, more an advance in a different direction. ©Marie Marshall

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