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Cover of issue #223

Current Issue: #223 Agency & Affect (Winter 2014)

Canadian Literature's Issue 223 (Winter 2014), Agency & Affect, is now available. The issue features articles by Ranbir K. Banwait, Paul Huebener, Lisa Marchi, Veronica Austen, and Andrea Beverley, as well as an interview with Laurence Hill by Kerry Lappin-Fortin, along with new Canadian poetry and book reviews.

Early Machines

by A. F. Moritz

The mysterious crane of her left arm
the block and tackle rippling
                                             its supple housing,
and in her eye as in a snake's or rabbit's
the obvious, hungry calculation.
                                                  And beneath:
the useless mouldings of her breasts, the forms
and the fillips:
                       like decorations made
                         by an innocent artisan
who once was here
          and prayed
               and remembered Pan
                        in smoke blown from the smelters.

At night on the watery road,
a white deserted trail glimmering beside the stream,
he would stop the starved weaver, the demobbed soldier,
as they hobbled mumbling.

There are still signs of him: he placed
acanthus on boiler doors,
          grapes and great stone heads on the cornices of banks,
                 he asked the beggar for his story
and took him to lodge at least one night at a cottage
           that shone above unscrolled water
                  sparkling in its sleep.

Secure now in the river's and the beggar's
sheltered peace,
                         he wandered again
back into the deceiving, divulging night,
considering that he knew good
                                             of the not-human.

And she: random and exquisite,
the thin beauty tacked across those pumps, her breasts,
for a while blinded me to everything.
For a while it was pleasure
                                           though I don't forget
why the stars this evening
          appeared to leap from the sea
               over the horizon of her belly
breathing on the sand (hers
                                        is the shape
that water longs for
in all its shapes and its caressing,
                                                    its howling
changes). Though I still stumble
in the poor fallen night
                                   until the sun
appears, because the earth rolls forward,
and this scrap where we are lying plunges down
beneath the constant fire. I
          like all
               seeing the dawn
                    can't help
                           but say,
"It rises."

               And winter too
will seem brilliant, when it comes,
          because she loves it:
               with the artisan's love of rest,
               which winter commands: the locked season, of pure
colours and forms burning and secluded
          in candid outline, of the forced need to live
               sheltered, close to the fire,
on the hoarded produce of dead summer
and once-triumphant arms.

                                        I saw her
loving, more than sunrise,
winter and hope because her will
is a machine of that sort which works
on whatever is left—even if it longs
          and cries out with antiquated gears
                to stop, it goes on working because
                     the parts were thrown together
to work until the end.

But the light of this explanation
went out. And in the dark again there was
               but what the eye sees:
the endless, the starving, the prolific,
ignorance hived in winter,
               her at the heart of the gaze
                     and the needful power to love her.

This poem originally appeared in Canadian Literature #150 (Autumn 2015), Urquhart and Munro. (pg. 81 - 83)

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