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A Quarterly Journal
Jeffrey Woodward, Founder & General Editor
Volume 10, Number 2, June 2016
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Maxianne Berger
Outremont, Quebec, Canada


Perdition

1.

My garden tour group have disappeared along with the guide, or more the case, I've lost them. I have no idea where I am, how I got here, or where I've been between the wrought iron gates and where I now find myself—on a hill where an intricately-patterned frieze of flowers borders a cobblestone path.

garden pond
filled with koi
I float
somewhere above
in virtual reality

And topiaries. Yes, that shrub is definitely shaped like a castle, and that one there, a man holding a musket. But no familiar landmark, not even a distant skyscraper skirted in smog. And certainly no tweedy guide in sensible shoes holding high a little blue flag and marching us along at military pace.

in plain view
wrapped in sunbeams
folded in flowers
the grandchildren insist
we put the bombs there

2.

This lapse of consciousness, you know it's the same kind of reverie you have when you're driving somewhere familiar—like home from work or over to your lover's. You arrive and realize you don't recall a single thing about getting there.

who is
this grizzled man
yesterday
apple blossoms were in flight
you laughed about the future

Were the lights mostly green or did you have to stop a lot? How could you safely negotiate streets when oblivious to pedestrians and other cars? What eye works when your own are focused somewhere within? Somewhere within! That's the worst part—as you slam shut the car door, you have no idea what it was that so preoccupied you only moments before. Just so, when the garden creeps back into awareness, it drags along that spectre of something not remembered.

the poem
from last night’s dream
where is it?
the bedside notebook
filled with paisley curlicues

3.

But she doesn't recognize any of the flowers. It isn't that she doesn't know their names—she has never known flower names. Well, maybe the classics—rose, tulip, violet, daisy. Mostly she knows flowers by their colour. But these are flowers she's never seen before. Had she the presence of mind to look closely, she would observe that instead of having five petals, they tend to have seven. But in her lost state, she sees only larger details: a red flag above a clump of people on the next hill over. She hurries to join them, hoping at least to benefit from their tour. And eventually to be led out. But when she reaches the group, out of breath, she finds she can't understand their language.

mottled babble
cryptic like Ophelia
chanting
there’s pansies that’s for thoughts
there’s candies that’s for tots

The people are dressed like you or me, ordinary in every other respect, except their faces are tinged blue . . .

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end

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