The Latin For Hunger

The year they uncovered our three year old
Neighbour silent in the wooded easement
Behind her apartment, I learned to identify
Those trees by the Latin, alnus rubra,
Red alder, the first taker of disturbed lands.
That year, my brother, who was only nine,
Stopped eating and I fell madly in love
With a Jewish girl whose skin was so white
It was almost not there and whose blue eyes
Were so blue the red in them remembered
The flight from Egypt, the moonscape
Of Sinai, the artist with his broken hand
Drawing in the dark at Terezin, and more
I never had the heart to decipher. That year
A large boy held the three year old girl
In his arms while I read “The Hunger Artist”
And learned how denial could be a form
Of luxury, the slow emergence of the artist’s
Ribs slipping the bars of his cell. My brother
Grew thinner and thinner all through Lent
And into Passover when I attended my first
Seder at the home of the fair Jewish girl
I’d met, finally, in twelfth grade biology.
The food was almost edible, almost normal.
For some reason, all through dinner and after
I  kept thinking about the red inner flesh
Of the alder and my brother and that girl,
The one in the woods with our neighbour,
The neighbour girl whose crooked neck
Seemed to point to something outside
Of herself, which was outside my brother
Too, but not me. I’d already taken in
Too much of the world. According to Kafka
When the public will no longer attend
The spectacle of the artist’s hunger, his art
Is dead. Alnus rubra, then acer rubrum,
Then red cedar, whose Latin name I can not
For the life of me, remember: the sequence
Of succession in the Northwest forests.
That year I saw a Jewish girl, undressed,
Lay the white lamb of herself upon her bed
And my youngest brother in the white shroud
Of hospital linens under a copse of poles
And plastic bladders. The neighbour boy,
Unattended in his cell, escaped himself
One night, later that year, while the guards
Watched television. I pressed my lean body
Into the lean body of that girl and entered
History at a point that turned all mine in
Front of me. Trussed with tubes and fluids
My brother got stronger against his will
And in the late summer when the air held
A deep blue that grew darker everyday
He came home, thin, almost himself again.

From A Doctor Pedalled Her Bicycle Over the River Arno (House of Anansi 2011)

Matt Rader of the lost ark.

Published On
: July 1, 2011
Permanent Location:






Volume 6, Issue 1
canada day, 2011

Not Quite HostiLe

canada day
by Forget Magazine

The Latin for Hunger
by Matt Rader

Lily and the Ways of Women
by Kim Bannerman

Forget Turns Ten
by Nick Thran

by Maleea Acker

Let Me Explain This Painting
by Jennifer Nelson

Let Me Explain This Painting
by Jennifer Nelson

Two Seances
by Brandon Menke

Origin Story
by Robert Earl Stewart

Thurston Owl
by Robert Earl Stewart

Feb 12, 2001 - Present

1 / 2 / 3 / 4 / 5 / 6


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