Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Promptings and juxtaposition

Jordan Davis writes in to ask what prompted my post on Janet Frame. His subject line: "class." I did mention class, didn't I? Answer: well, love for Frame's work, of course - and joy at the publication of Storms Will Tell. Here's another poem of hers, maybe not her very best, but the best one for answering the question - by juxtaposition, my preferred mode:

A Room

It had walls like these walls
only shit-stained, and light
like this room only caged and
the door, inside, was without a handle.

And all day I heard the children
calling out of their white waxen mouths
looking out of their tar-black eyes that shone
like dream highways, thruways, freeways
beaten down by journeying silence.

They played with bloodstained toys. Two barked
like dogs. They were dressed in butchers' smocks
and their feet were swollen like castles;
and there was always the child, aged three,
locked in and whispered about because
his head was an oak-leaf and his mouth was absent.

How did he live so long without spitting
at the stone that weighed down on him?
He might easily, so simply, have fallen like rain
upon himself and been washed away
to sleep in earth with armchair spiders and yellow teardrop flowers.

-- Janet Frame, from Storms Will Tell

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