Dostoevsky

By 
Lorna Crozier

He was a man unconvinced by pancakes.
He said that as she licked the syrup off her fingertips,
Funny, it happened all the time, though she never touched
The pancakes, syrup seemed to travel up her fork and make
Her fingers stick. She wondered if the rich ate this victual
With thin white gloves a maid would pull off after.
She would have called this man a boy but she was trying
Not to see others from the perspective of her longevity.
She’d grown old since her mother died two years ago.
Was that common stuff? You aged instantly even as a child
Upon a mother’s death? Took on the look of children
In those old Italian paintings, stern adult heads stuck on
Little bodies padded with velvets and brocade.
The man uninspired by pancakes had the face of a monk.
A monk had told him that and it made him wonder
If he should join the order. He needed a letter of reference
From an employer but he was out of work, merely
A doctoral student on a grant. She noticed he had nice ankles.
They would show beneath a robe. What did it mean
To look like a monk? The ones she knew were old, shrunken
To the size of a child, their skin transparent. When they bathed,
Could you see their hearts breaking through, their fingers
Tacky with blood? She wondered if this aspirant
Knew Dostoevsky’s So much grief, and then pancakes after.
Of course he did. They all read the Russians now and deconstructed them.
Break down a pancake and it wasn’t much: flour, baking powder, an egg,
What had she forgotten? There must be sugar, at least half a cup.
There must be salt. So much grief would add the tears. 

Lorna Crozier has authored fourteen books of poetry, most notably Inventing the Hawk (McClelland & Stewart, 1992), winner of the Governor General’s Award. Her most recent book, The Blue Hour of the Day (McLelland & Stewart, 2007), contains selections from her eight major collections and includes many of the poems for which she is justly celebrated. She is currently on the faculty of the University of Victoria, where she is Chair of the Writing Department.

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    In this issue:

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