The Hour Between Dog and Wolf
By Laure-Anne Bosselaar
Entre chien et loup: time at dusk, when a wolf can be
mistaken for a dog
I. The Good Ogre's Beard
Home from the nuns once a month,
I run to his shack on the Wool Canal, climb
his belly to bury my face in the stir and curls
of his beard. Sun-bleached seaweed on his chest,
it purls, then stops by the slit in his vest
where he keeps his watch tied to a button
with string. On the left side of his head,
the funnel-shaped gash left by a German bullet.
That Kraut's blood still shines on my bayonet,
he smiles. I sit in his lap, on the wheezing
tides of his breath as his old fingers crochet
eel nets with green waxed flax--my head warm
between his forearms. In every knot he makes
I slip a wish: Lord, save me from my family,
give me to him, may he live for ever and ever, Amen.
II. Herman the Bastard
He dies alone, Herman the Bastard,
in Bruges, during the long winter of '62, felled
and frozen next to his empty rabbit pen. I
never learned whose bastard he was, his name
taboo in our family: he was an atheist, read
banned books, drank beer and spoke
to Jews: A sinner, father barked.
But I escape to his shack on the Wool Canal,
while my family plays canasta and their claret
stains the tablecloth. I run to Herman,
waiting--huge--by his green enameled stove,
drinking beer, obese with life and stories.
Ach ja, child, come hurry, he says, the stories
are impatient, look here they come!
He points his finger to the door.
As in Holy Processions, they parade
into the shack: the silk-clad Dukes of Burgundy,
the pompous bishops of Spain, Ruben's peach-
hipped women and Emperor Charlemagne.
Bruegel guilds the air with country fairs and beer;
newly weds wave their bloodstained sheets
from somber windows at dawn . . .
Suddenly, swords clang, heads roll:
it's St. Bartholomew's night. In the guts
of steaming canals, Huguenot bodies
thump against barges filled with linen and lace.
Ach ja, child, he says, humanity!
III. Feeding the Rabbits
He wraps his scarf around my neck:
It's time to feed the rabbits, come.
They rustle in the straw, the black male
chortles, the gray one scratches the trellis.
We kneel in his narrow vegetable patch, peel
leaves from cabbage, pull carrots, rutabaga,
leeks, both making believe we're not waiting
for the moment I long for, the one I fear
Then the church bells ring--and it happens
at last: like a mad, panicked dog, Herman
races through the garden yelping Quiet! No . . . Nooo!
punches the air with his fists, crashes
into the rabbit pen: they squeal, I shriek, he
grabs around blindly, finds me, covers my ears
with his earth and cabbage hands:
Run, run, the bells are howling, the catholic
wolves are hungry again!
He picks me up, stumbles inside,
slams the latch and collapses in his chair, cursing.
Later, as we eat raw herring
with bread dipped in beer, Herman shakes
his finger at me: Remember, child:
don't listen to church bells--ever--
that howling will chew up your soul!
IV. The Hour Between Dog and Wolf
The roofs of Wool Row are charcoal
with dusk. Ach child, look, he says, it's almost
the hour between dog and wolf: go now, go.
I pull away from his belly,
the shush of his beard, wave at him
hunched on the threshold of his shack,
wave again before turning the corner,
but he looks away, afraid he'll call me
back, afraid I'll stay.
I run through Bruges, through dusk
and sorrow rising from canals like black
mantillas and when--
from the darkest side of the sky--
the vesper bells start howling:
I don't listen, I don't listen.
I thought about looking for something Lupercalia-themed but I think I prefer Bosselaar here. Not the porn you were looking for, I know. I have deep and grave ambivalence about some festivals -- it's one thing to choose, another to know that people were forced to celebrate in certain cultures, at least for me. Am having an urge to reread one of the best novels I've ever read, The Last Kabbalist of Lisbon, as a result of having watched a History Channel thing on the Inquisition in Portugal where it was so much worse in some ways than in Spain.
MY MEMORIES ARE BACK! WHOOOO! I was pretty scared for awhile there. Still haven't read the hp_valentine drabbles because I was possessed by a certain someone (*peers at Lupin icon and wonders why he looks so innocent*) and had three articles to write.
I know there are Babylon 5 fans reading this who think JMS is god's gift to genre television, so could you do me a favor and look away for a moment? SHEESH that man is arrogant and I am so relieved Paramount wouldn't talk to him about letting him take over Star Trek! Anyone who has read my reviews for any time knows that I am only a lukewarm fan of Berman, not at all a fan of Braga, a hater of Biller, ambivalent about Coto and not particularly nostalgic for Moore, but overall I think DS9 did twice as many brilliant episodes as B5 did and Berman oversaw the vast majority of Star Trek episodes I'd label brilliant...not Roddenberry, whose name JMS keeps loftily raising in the posts linked here. First he tells fans to go lobby Paramount to put him in charge of Star Trek which he claims they won't do because of an evil monopoly headed by Berman, then just as quickly he takes it back and says oops, actually Paramount's not looking to revive the series right now even with my Ingenious Five Year Plan (TM) and besides I have other work to do, nyah. I couldn't sit through most of the first and fifth seasons of B5 (and I DON'T blame Locksley, I liked her), and even its best episodes had some atrocious dialogue and hit-over-the-head clunky political wankery. Criticize Trek, fine, but stop praising your own "track record" like you'd be a great bet for the franchise. It would so serve you right if Paramount refused to talk to you after this attempt to sic the fans on them, or if Ron Moore beat you at your own game and got more people to call and harrass them.
Gacked from various and sundry, If you woke up and I was in bed with you, what would be your first thought?
A day late, but this made me shriek like the shack:
hp_hardcore presents Hardcore Valentines! Click here to get your own!
And swiped from legate_damar, who to no one's surprise was himself:
TEKENY GHEMOR: You're the one good Cardassian.
Well, aren't you special. You led the
Dissident movement, you opposed the Occupation,
and you're warm-harted enough to call a Bajoran
your adopted daughter. But, you know what
they say, only the good die young...
Which Cardassian Are You? (Star Trek: DS9)
brought to you by Quizilla
I'm trying to think if I have anything important to report from today. Stayed in bed late because I had cats on either side of me and it was kind of comfortable and lazy. Did laundry, ate waaaay too much Valentine candy, updated my fic site, read some Hornblower (was ambivalent about Mr Midshipman but am absolutely loving Lieutenant -- where is the Bush fic?), drove kids' carpools, watched Veronica Mars which I continue to adore even though I have some trouble following the overall arc because I've missed so many episodes; the show does an amazing job of balancing self-contained episodes with the serial story, I just admire that so much, and the girls and women on the show are complicated and interesting. And tomorrow I get to see When Duncan Met Methos!
Sheet ice, fallen snow, rushing river: water everywhere at Great Falls.