Friday, May 28, 2010
The Cow May Be My Future
Lucie Brock-Broido’s work may be the poetry equivalent of slow food, with her current tally standing at three books since 1988, namely A Hunger, The Master Letters and Trouble in Mind. Still, it’s good to see a generous selection of them published by Carcanet as Soul Keeping Company, but what takes my eye straight away are two notes, both to poems from A Hunger. One is to ‘Elective Mutes’, and tells us the poem is narrated by June Gibbons, as well as summarizing her story and that of her identical twin Jennifer.
As the sisters grew up together, they became more and more detached from the real world, eventually living and speaking in an invented world of poems, novels, and diaries based on the lives and rituals of their dolls. Eventually, their fantasies and languages became more symbiotic and more pathological. As they became impossibly and progressively intertwined and encoded, they began to turn on one another; they became arsonists, and eventually [third time now!], they began to think of murdering one another. Now in their twenties, they are imprisoned in Broadmoor hospital for the criminally insane.
The twins remained at Broadmoor for 14 years. Jennifer mysteriously died or viral myocarditis within hours of leaving Broadmoor in 1993. June now lives in Wales and continues to write.
The other note that took my fancy is to the poem ‘The Future as a Cow’, and quotes the words of former Bridgeport basketball player Manute Bol. The subject is his Sudanese background:
My father was a farmer. Not a big farmer. He made some money. He sold potatoes and tomatoes. He had about 150 cows... When I want to get married to some girl, and her father says, ‘I want 100 cows’, what are you going to do if you don’t have the cows? That’s why you keep cows. I took care of the cows. I looked for animals that would like to kill the cows. Lions, hyenas. Sometimes I talk out loud to keep them away... Right now I play ball. I can stay here in this country and I don’t have to sell my cows, because I like the cows like my father liked them. I’m going to school right now. I play now. I can’t say the future is not a cow. The cow may be my future. I don’t know.
Manute Bol is 7’7” and is currently the brand ambassador for Ethiopian Airlines.