Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Aspects of The Singer Child

( A wayside village in Normandy, 1914)

The stray purr of her song
wanders between the circus wagons.
She sings
because she will not cry.

Tears inflame the eyes with salt
and there is already enough fire
in her hair.

Some call her, the tangerine girl ---
daughter of the contortionist
who beguiles the crowd
as he changes his body
from jointed spider to sculptured bird.

His oddity
entertains the public
but her own
instills fear, face
of the fairy child
shadowed by wind, transfixed
darkly whenever she sees
a spirit or saint.

Last week
she saw Saint Theresa
in a meteorite shower,
flaming blossoms
that fell earthward
and cooled to stone.

When her father asked
what it all meant,
she did not reply
but sang Dame Tartine,

her eyes staring
at a woman's veil stitched
with glittering thread, an embroidered date
evoking Summer, so many

sunflowers rouged in blood,
fields rutted by cannon wheels
and ashes scattered
like dirty bread mocking
the taste of wine, sweet butter.

Note -- "Dame Tartine" is an old French folksong meaning "Lady Bread and Butter". It's popularity orignated in the countryside and was a favorite among children. Here, the child sings it as a defense against a grim and prophetic reality she has been fated to forsee.

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