Arts &
  Arts Culture Analysis  
Vol. 2, No. 4, 2003

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Robert J. Lewis
  Contributing Editors
Bernard Dube
Phil Nixon
Mark Goldfarb
Robert Rotondo
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Emanuel Pordes
  Arts Editor
Marissa Consiglieri de Chackal
Mady Bourdage
Emanuel Pordes
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Robert Fisk
Pico Iyer
Edward Said
Mark Kingwell
Arundhati Roy
John Lavery
David Solway
Tariq Ali
Rochelle Gurstein



Anne Simpson was shortlisted for the 2002 Thomas Head Raddall Atlantic Fiction Award and was the winner of the 2001 Atlantic Poetry Prize (Writers' Federation of Nova Scotia) for Light Falls Through You. Mayfly will be published in 2004 by Jack Pine Press.




It opens. Yesterday it was furled, tight. Now the ceremonial carpets have been unrolled. Soon a miniature pope will come to stand at the balcony. No one will be able to hear what he's saying. Listen closely for the tiny bells, watch for the flicker of something gold. After the prayers, the blades of grass will be blessed. Inside each thing you can see the spaciousness of cathedrals.


The light glides across her skin when she moves her arms. It streams over her and rushes away. There are days when it pours right through her. She thinks of the summer Matisse worked at Collioure. He began painting before dawn and worked through the day, hour after hour. He worked until his hands were tired, but even then he didn't stop. Sometimes there was so much light on the ocean he thought it would blind him.


Under her fingers there's marram grass, blade-thin, and a straggle of beach pea. Further away: the skull of a deer or a dog, half-buried in sand. The silvery log - where she's resting her head - is nothing more than a bleached bone. There's no telling what makes her cry. Look at all those women, wearing deep blue saris, leaning this way and that, in the ocean. Thousands, row on row. Are they moaning or praying? Listen. Surely they're trying to tell her something.



Beside the cathedral men are digging hard. She wonders what they're looking for. She's doing the usual things, dusting and labelling. She's been arranging small platters of ice, a bend in the river, snow from the last blizzard. Also, she's been paying attention to wind, which is merely a longing to touch. The men spend their time wisely, memorizing how shovels glint in the sun. She studies the way they dig. Soon they'll come to an end. They'll have a good-sized hole, and then they'll stand back to look into it. She's waiting for the black crow, the way it strikes sky, making a flinty sound.



There are pinkish-white pagodas on the chestnut tree. In each pagoda is a sage, his arms folded in silk. She passes the tree, listening. At first she doesn't hear anything. What is it you're seeking? asks one. There are whispers, soft shufflings. They're moving across the polished floors of the pagodas on slippered feet. You have the power to kill, says another. She pauses, but there is only wind, one veil of rain after another. Didn't you know this?



The ball of dung was impaled on a twig: the dung beetle had to solve the problem. First it pushed, then it went underneath. Finally it freed the dung from the twig and kept going. Sisyphus worked as hard as this, knowing he could stop anytime he wanted. After a while he began to love the rock. He loved the hill. He could feel himself between them.



He's getting used to it. Each morning when he wakes, he sees fire on the palms of his hands. The flames are small but distracting. Whatever he touches starts on fire: the chair, the table, even the mirror. Now he's teaching himself to pick up one thing at a time, carefully. He knows it's a gift from the gods, but sometimes he wishes they'd take it back. Soon he'll be able to put it inside his ribs and take it out whenever he needs it.


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