Verso 3.1

Dionne Brand

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At first there's no lake in the city, at first there are only

elevators, at first there are only constricting office desks;

there are small apartments and hamburger joints and

unpaid telephone bills. Then a few nightclubs appear and

eventually the lake disinters. At times there's a highway

and a car and friends in a snowstorm heading nowhere but

back to the city and Sarah Vaughan is singing in the cabin

of the car. The three of us are frightened of everything.

Our lives in this town, which is not a town, and on this

snow road, which is no road, who will protect us. In the

city there is no simple love or simple fidelity, the poem

long after concludes. There's a slippery heart that abandons.

Fists are full of women's bodies. The Group of Seven is

painting just outside the city now. The graffiti crew is here

inside blowing up the expressway and the city is like a

Romare Bearden or a Basquiat. More Basquiat. The cynical

clerk notes, in her cynical English, all the author has elided,

the diagonal animosities and tiers of citizenship. The

author wants a cosmopolitan city. Nothing wrong with

that. But the clerk who orbits her skull has to deal with all

the animus.

     The author's not naive, far from it, but however compli-

cated she is, the clerk is more so. The clerk notices there are

air raids, a lingua of sirens and gunshots in the barracking

suburbs, the incendiary boys are rounded up by incendiary 

boys and babies are falling from fifteen-storey buildings

into the shrubbery; each condo fights for the view of the

exhumed lake, until the sky is cloudy with their shadow.

The atmosphere is dull with petulant cars. The author

avoids all this; you see my point?

Dionne Brand, “From Verso 4” from The Blue Clerk. Copyright © 2018 by Dionne Brand. Reprinted by permission of the publisher.

Source: The Blue Clerk (McClelland & Stewart, 2018)