Size / / /

Perhaps it's only natural that a father

should want a son,

but the next time the woodcarver takes

up his chisel and mallet,

it's as if his hands have a mind of their

own, fluttering owllike

about a stump, or mouse. Before long,

girlish tresses have

emerged from the block of basswood;

no deepcut dryad,

but a daughter, roughly hewed at first,

but under the whittling

bite of scorp and spokeshave growing

ever more defined.

By evening, he is nearly finished;

all that remains doing

is to apply a bit of paint. Taking up

his brushes, perhaps,

reasons the woodcarver, I will have

better luck with this one;

girls were generally more mindful of

their parents

and disobeyed less; you did not have

to worry so much

about them running away. A pretty child,

this newish addition

to his puppetry has her brother's stark

black hair and eyes —

but then given the origin of the pigment

(he's compounded it

himself from fireplace char), that was

the nature of families.

Even now, the girl-wood jiggles with life,

taking bold steps,

but never quite out of sight of the hearth,

with its smoking pine

and bits of half-burnt string, or her father,

who at last content,

is still far from willing to relinquish

all notion of knots.




Robert Borski works for a consortium of elves repairing shoes in Stevens Point, Wisconsin. You can read more of his work in our archives.
Current Issue
22 Apr 2024

We’d been on holiday at the Shoon Sea only three days when the incident occurred. Dr. Gar had been staying there a few months for medical research and had urged me and my friend Shooshooey to visit.
...
Tu enfiles longuement la chemise des murs,/ tout comme d’autres le font avec la chemise de la mort.
The little monster was not born like a human child, yelling with cold and terror as he left his mother’s womb. He had come to life little by little, on the high, three-legged bench. When his eyes had opened, they met the eyes of the broad-shouldered sculptor, watching them tenderly.
Le petit monstre n’était pas né comme un enfant des hommes, criant de froid et de terreur au sortir du ventre maternel. Il avait pris vie peu à peu, sur la haute selle à trois pieds, et quand ses yeux s’étaient ouverts, ils avaient rencontré ceux du sculpteur aux larges épaules, qui le regardaient tendrement.
We're delighted to welcome Nat Paterson to the blog, to tell us more about his translation of Léopold Chauveau's story 'The Little Monster'/ 'Le Petit Monstre', which appears in our April 2024 issue.
You take your time putting on the shirt of the walls,/ just as others might put on the shirt of death.
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