Excerpt from Oscar of Between, Part 1A
Inexplicably entering the Imperial War Museum. London. 30.3.07. Sodden gusting air
(outside). Atmospheric twilight of Camouflage Exhibit (inside). Oscar, having quickly walked
by bare-bulb of permanent collection (its secrets intact).
Last time traveled alone: 1992. Amsterdam. Wrote the Van Gogh suite:
“open wound of the ear.”
Now rummaging through satchel for ear-length pencil. On exhibition ticket
scribbling quote from first display case:
“Art alone could screen men and intentions
where natural cover failed.”
British artist and camouflage officer
: neither man,
nor marked with natural cover.
That leaves her with art.
First display case. Dumb-struck. For all her notable difference – this one had eluded
Oscar. This unidentified force. Shaping her life. Thought it had nothing to do – with
her. Until. This moment.
: necessity of.
: lack of.
Oscar at odds.
A troubling bewilderment exiting her body – last grains in hour glass – gasp.
– sixty years to get here –
“At a slant.” Dickenson knew. Glimpses of a narrative’s ghosts. Most a writer can hope for.
Prior to London. It’s her cousin who tells her the story. Farm fields unfurled. Her cousin’s
mom arriving one day. Unexpected.
Oscar. Left alone.
Strips of wallpaper piled up in her crib (pulling at what’s beneath).
Her aunt gets a glimpse.
Fifty-nine years later Oscar gets a glimpse too.
To foil: run over or cross (ground or scent) to confuse the hounds. Oscar. Never taught.
Not her instinct. But her mother adept at.
Oscar. Outside the pack(t).
Renée Sarojini Saklikar
Excerpt from “18 thing poems (burnish the blast)”
do you carry for yourself, a secret name—
the way a river might—
bounty learnt year by year, province by province:
Saskatchewan, the Yukon,
on the banks of the mighty Fraser
set down and sing a Settler’s Song:
frisson of attachments
courier du bois—
names over landscapes
down streets, mountains—
names flow inside the soft brush of grasses
find the hunt
rocks names wove so tight
—to get at them, toss and crush
sediment of names
Siwash Spring, green and flowering
You bring it back again—trunk of older-elder-alder-fish-fresh-First Names
On the street where you grow
I live and do not know
(branch to petal) your true name
Give this to me, tree,
and I will watch you
all the more
( oh rhythm, not flow. oh rhythm, not flow faux
I see buds on each of your Shiva-arms.
They will come in hundreds, thousands, wrapped—
filial(s) of grey moss (hidden) jewels.
Mother-Father tree, displaying Al Kemi-Alchemy:
water, light, air. At your command, roots
Come wind, the rain. A tree-clock teleology
propels time forward.
the way you work, bit by bit, covert,
An embrace of branches from your helix spine
count: now eight, ten, twelve tributaries—
a swerve and the tallest ones curve
Quiet. Change drops in stealth:
buds push out from grooves, sprockets, the tuber-heads on your arms.
How sly you are,
and I, devotee.
No to interjections. Interject.
No to singing. Signs, instead.