Thursday, February 20, 2014

Accidental Collage

A poet showed me the flames over the bus before I ever saw them myself. No matter how many times I had looked, I had seen only Pius XXI and the bare arm. It was an accidental collage caught in Barcelona at Christmas-time when the hotels are cheap, when the Ramblas whores and thieves are thinned out by visits home. When the cool air carries with it the fragrance of chickens roasting in the window of restaurants like Las Carracoles where you eat snails and paella at your own risk.   

The author Karen Brennan knows the real terrain of collage -- the incidence of found objects, the mise-en-scene of place. A good essay, “Some Reflections on the Concept of Place in Place in Fiction” can be found here, A Kite in the Wind . But the essay I really want to read one day would come from her 2009 class, “Collage/Assemblage” where she talked about the wolf tones of collage found in her extraordinary memoir, Being with Rachel.

Her daughter, Rachel, is in a coma:

“Someone fastened a small Guadalupe holy card to the rails of Rachel’s bed, and then my sister in Tucson, out of the blue, began to dream of the Mexican Virgin. It seemed, for a while, that we were deluged by Guadalupes, Guadalupes everywhere in the cards and gifts sent to Rachel and spotted randomly throughout the day: a nurse with a Guadalupe bracelet, a taxi driver with a Guadalupe postcard tucked beneath his visor. Weirdest of all, a prayer to the Virgin of Guadalupe written in Spanish appeared on the windshield of my car where it was parked at the Holiday Inn. And since any sign, from blood pressure to the tiniest tremor around Rachel’s closed eyes, meant something, I began to pray to Our Lady of Guadalupe. Let her make it through, I’d pray. Just let her wake up. Just let her live. Just let her have her life.”

Collage informs Karen's new poems. From her book Little Dark, lines from "Ballares" (Four Way Press):

            "I never believed in anything I walked through walls 
             Like Jesus"


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