Excerpt from Oscar of Between, Part 1A

Betsy Warland


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.”

S.J. Solomon

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).

Renee Sarojini Saklikar

Guest Writer:
Renée Sarojini Saklikar

Vancouver, BC
thecanadaproject, a life-long poem chronicle

Excerpt from “18 thing poems (burnish the blast)”


Listen, tree—how old are you

do you carry for yourself, a secret name—
the way a river might—
bounty learnt year by year, province by province:

Nova Scotia


Saskatchewan, the Yukon,

British Columbia—

on the banks of the mighty Fraser

set down and sing a Settler’s Song:

frisson of attachments
explorer plunderer

courier du bois—

learner-forgetter of

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


Lord Tree,


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

run sap.

Come wind, the rain. A tree-clock teleology

propels time forward.


the way you work, bit by bit, covert,

infinitesimal green—

a dance,

anima, animus.

An embrace of branches from your helix spine

count: now eight, ten, twelve tributaries—

a swerve and the tallest ones curve

each day
the space
your bran-
ches, fills.
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.

Yes to the thing. Thing.
No to words. Words.
No to pleasure. Pleasure.

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