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Pascale Petit
Pascale Petit

Pascale Petit’s sixth collection Fauverie is published by Seren in September 2014. Five poems from the book won the Manchester Poetry Prize. Her fifth collection What the Water Gave Me: Poems after Frida Kahlo was shortlisted for both the TS Eliot Prize and Wales Book of the Year, and was a Book of the Year in the Observer. Pascale has had three books shortlisted for the TS Eliot Prize and selected as Books of the Year in the Times Literary Supplement, Independent and Observer. She tutors courses at Tate Modern and for The Poetry School.

Photo: Kaido Vainomaa


Member Link.
(http://www.pascalepetit.c o.uk)
Pascale Petit Poetry


Poems from Fauverie by Pascale Petit (Seren - September 2014)

 

 

Arrival of the Electric Eel

 

Each time I open it I feel like a Matsés girl

handed a parcel at the end of her seclusion,

my face pierced by jaguar whiskers

to make me brave.

I know what’s inside – that I must

unwrap the envelope of leaves

until all that’s left

squirming in my hands

is an electric eel.

The positive head, the negative tail,

the rows of batteries under the skin,

the small, almost blind eyes.

The day turns murky again,

I’m wading through the bottom of my life

when my father’s letter arrives. And keeps on arriving.

The charged fibres of paper

against my shaking fingers,

the thin electroplates of ink.

The messenger drags me up to the surface

to gulp air then flicks its anal fin.

Never before has a letter been so heavy,

growing to two metres in my room,

the address, the phone number, then the numbness –

I know you must be surprised, it says,

but I will die soon and want to make contact.

 

 

 

 

Emmanuel

 

In the last days, after all he said

and didn’t say, his iron tongue

resting in the open bell of his mouth,

the belfry of his face asleep,

I climbed the spiral steps of the tower –

up the steep steps of the bell cage, to the bourdon,

the great bumblebee, Emmanuel.

I stared at that bronze weight, the voice of Paris,

as if it was my father’s voice

and I had climbed up his spine,

all thirteen tons of copper and tin,

the clapper half a ton of exorcised iron.

I washed the outside with holy oil for the sick,

the inside with chrism. Let all badness

be banished when he rings. Let the powers of the air

tremble – the hail and lightning

that fell from his tongue on our last days together.

I made the sign of the cross. His note

was F sharp, the hum

deep enough to reverberate through the rest of my life.

I stood upright in him.

I placed myrrh inside his mouth, incense

smoking like a last cigarette.

I praised him. I assembled the priests.

I mourned his death.

Storm clouds dispersed. Thunderbolts scattered.

I tolled in Sabbaths. I raised

my father’s life to its hoists and rang him until I was deaf.

I proclaimed peace after bloodshed.

 

 

(First published in Poetry London and Fauverie)

 

 

 

 

Sleeping Black Jaguar

 

1.

A solar eclipse – his fur

seems to veil light,

the smoulder

 

of black rosettes

a zoo of sub-atoms

I try to tame –

 

tritium, lepton, anti-proton.

They collide

as if smashed inside

 

a particle accelerator.

But it’s just Aramis sleeping,

twitching himself back

 

to the jungle, where he leaps

into the pool of a spiral

galaxy, to catch a fish.

 

2.

Later, the keeper tells me

Aramis has had surgery

for swallowing

 

a hose-head

where his hank of beef

was lodged. But

 

what vet could take

a scalpel to this

dreaming universe?

 

What hand could shave

that pelt, to probe

the organs

 

of dark matter, untwist

time’s intestines

and stitch

 

night’s belly

together again, only

to return him to a cage?                              


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