Wed
Mar 13 2013 4:00pm

Red Doc> (Excerpt)

Anne Carson

From Anne Carson, out now from Knopf Doubleday Publishing, take a look at Red Doc>:

A note from the author—“Some years ago I wrote a book about a boy named Geryon who was red and had wings and fell in love with Herakles. Recently I began to wonder what happened to them in later life. Red Doc> continues their adventures in a very different style and with changed names.

To live past the end of your myth is a perilous thing.”

 

 

Wife of Brain

we enter we tell you
we are the Wife of Brain
at this point you have little grounds to complain we say
a red man unfolding his wings is how it begins then the lights
come on or go off or the stage
spins it’s like a play omnes
to their places
but
remember
the following faces
the red one (G)
you already know (what’s he done to his hair) his old friend
Sad
But Great
looks kind
beware
third Ida Ida is limitless and will soon be our king
scene is
a little red hut where G lives alone
time
evening

 

WHY BIRDS HAVE no
arms–if you are human
you fly with arms straight
out in front and horizontal
to the ground. To give
least resistance. Of course
it’s exhausting. Don’t fight
it just do it says G to his
arms. He visualizes little
pistons all over pumping
him forward and this helps
for a while but the ache is
spreading from his spine
in every direction. Down
the ice fault pours a steady
cold channel of headwind
against him. He knows he
is slowing and probably
looks ridiculous. Am I
turning into one of those
old guys in a ponytail and
wings he thinks sadly.
Something skims his
cheek. He waves at it
vaguely. Predators. His
heart sinks. People talk of
eagles with a wingspan of
3 meters in the northern
regions. He begins to
imagine his own heroic
death as told by Daniil
Kharms. If the sky – but
now the air is darkening
around him and strange
vectors dive whizz swoop
– he gasps suddenly
realizing what it is. Not
predators. Ice bats! They
are blueblack. They are
absolutely silent. They
are the size of toasters.
And they are drafting him
down the ice fault with
eerie gentle purpose. A
spearhead in front and a
convoy each side. His
shoulders begin to relax.
Is there an etiquette for
this he should worry
about? Theoretically he
can gain 35% efficiency
by riding their wheels a
while. But it should be
some sort of exchange.
On the other hand theirs is
a volunteer intervention
and they do look tireless
despite all going so fast
there’s a smell of burning –
he is thinking this odd this
smell of burning when the
whole mass of them veers
around an ice bend and
arrives in a vast garage.

ICE BATS GO nimbly
and can stop on a dime.
Here’s how you stop. Flap
both wings downward
creating a vortex above
the leading edge of each
wing this allows you to
hover. Then flap once
upward to release suction
as you glide from the
flight path in an attitude of
careless royalty and
subside onto some ledge
or throne with neatly
folded fingerbones. G’s
descent is less fine. He
slams into the
blueblackness ahead of
him not expecting it to
stop. Or instantly
disperse. Each bat goes
whizzing its way into an
aperture in the back wall.
BATCATRAZ says a sign
nailed up there. G drops
to the ice floor stunned.
Clever of you to come in
the back way says a voice.
G looks up.

 

Excerpted from Red Doc> by Anne Carson. Copyright © 2013 by Anne Carson. Excerpted by permission of Knopf, a division of Random House, Inc. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.

1 comment
CANELA JARAMILLO
1. CANELA JARAMILLO
The terrible, clutching breathlessness of Carson's cadence is so beautifully compelling. That she conducts her words across the page like a canvas brings yet another command to the rhythm of language.

Here, there is both the trademark voyeuristic, nearly secretive dialogue (seemingly decoded only between poet and reader, a private pleasure)—as in "A Conversation Between Equals . . ."—and that utter love of precision, marking exact meters, percentages of efficiency, the physics of flight—a taxonomy so generously bewitching in "The Glass Essay."

I can hardly wait to read the entirety.

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