Tom Derungs

Anne Blonstein’s the blue pearl

                                                          the when
of a world not to forget this.        the when of
a world drawn by the others.     the when of a
world of lacquered roses. the when of a world
between two commas.     the
when in the world.        when  (90)

The when of the world is a cold black hole. Or perhaps not. Maybe it’s smooth. Glass-eyed. Blue. Depthless. A precious, priceless thing clinging to the brittle insides of sea creatures. Like a fused and glowing marble tucked inside the cold milk-muscle of the sea. Anne Blonstein pulls it up. Slaps it down. Cracks it open. Feeds it to us in salt and lemon words. Not normal words. But super-charged words. Like what-if-the-tenses-all-changed-and-pronouns-suddenly-become-adverbs-and-existence-lies-between-two-commas-sort-of kind-of-words. Blue words. Yellow words. Green words. Perhaps maybe what if we try word/lds.

                                            bound to see edges,
                                                 pruning limes
                                            in a garden of alleys,
                                             to leave more
                                           by borrowing a pink horse,
                                                 than to shy
                                            to move  (110)

It’s a rich mad place this blue. Hard to pack it all in. Hard to pack it all down like a wet snowball. It’s so plump and abundant. Orchid-infused. Lush with hyacinths and Babylonian flower-tongues. Burning bushes. Forked roads. Mystic paths. Golden apples. Golden bowls. Sun balls that taste of fruit bats. So many round and sweet things you could suck on them forever. Garden of paradise. Lamb chop of God. Wash away the sins of the Nile. Charcoal-eye of Hathor covering it all in one huge and fragile sky. Blanketing it all like some holy ceiling-mother. All the fertile and bloated banks of the world: the thick and harvest-filled plains, all the sweating lands that seem to stretch out forever, out in one huge and expansive void of curve. One could write about it forever.

           one could write like a worrier
      of whispering waste

    write through the wax wind
         on white walls
    waiting towards

write in water
     at wildest wavelengths
           words for weaning

                             with a wick
                             twisted from
                             my eyelashes  (57)

But the blue is dying. A big dark thing is eating it alive from the inside. Fetid ulcer. Acid rain. Rotten eggs. The seeds of destruction grow hurrying and worrying within it. It’s in our nefarious histories. Our naughty pasts. We miscarry it well. Deny it. This blue is bad. Wicked. A dark nut in a foul shell. Spit it out! Blonstein drags it out of the water. She guts it. Swallows it. Whispers sweet death songs to its blackness. Vomits its cold black heart out with rage across the frosty curls of the sea. You never forget. The ice caps are melting. Carbon death-lungs heaving. The world is a hot plague of tumors. The chamber doors are wide open. And Oh, how black it is inside!

to horror. the gas
and the gaze. the scream
and the shivering.  the silence
and the explosions (88)

The pearl is really a mirror.

                this blue
                is nothing
                but also self (59)

The pearl is really a poem.

                         the skin is shed in one piece
                                      at intervals
                                  the eyes turn blue
                            like cloud-rubbed stones (43)

The pearl is really hope.

                  “this blue is nothing but also green’’ (29)

The pearl is really beauty.

                            this blue is nothing but also
squeezed, the white shadow of winter’s hand
on the pulse,     borrowed from a spider’s web,
    eyelids of angels     (wing)  (100)

The pearl will set you free.

                             her blue is nothing but also
                          the effort of the den to escape
                                   being cemented
                             (she is beautiful in youth)
                                       the rattler
                                      a free sign  (67)

There’s a fine line between clever experimentation with language and being completely misunderstood by your reader. the blue pearl is one of Anne Blonstein’s most accessible books. It’s a good starting point for anyone interested in a short introduction to her longer work. It is also her most beautiful writing to date. It’s a perfect synthesis of post-modernism, experimentation, intellectualism and a huge chunk of that gorgeous big red thing they call the heart. The words and lines sit graphically stunning across the spacious page. Like a great Zen Enso. The circle is complete. The pearl waits patiently. It’s hidden deep within you. The eye is blue. Green. Whatever you want it to be. It contains all the magical secrets of the universe.

                     if lines could live
in their hesitations.      if arms
could embrace
the body of air.    because
i see birds,    vultures flying
In deep-grey formations.    i see
surrounding what
is hidden.    hectic      (magic)  (83)

The pearl is really just a song.

this blue is nothing but also
glass, a deep blue vessel
balanced in the hands of a blind man.
    at a party.      a crowded room.           somewhere
underground.                   smoke and red light.
             silence.      then
the blind man runs his finger round the rim of
the blue bowl.   unwritten music. mine   (93)


(the blue pearl, Salt Publishing, 2003  ISBN 1-876857-65-X)