“Deux Lapins” – Nicholas Laughlin

Image: ABD_2573–Anaglyph Photo/3D, posted at Flickr by relaxednow under a Creative Commons License.

We come, startled and thirsty, to the rim of the world.

Where that is depends on where you’ve journeyed. In “Deux Lapins” by Nicholas Laughlin, two rabbits are travelling together. What more plot might you need?

This poem isn’t a brocade. Think a deception of embroidery. The images the poet perforates in us are many, but they do not choke, or teem, or even spill. They glint in the gloaming. They rustle in the highveldt. They have chipped their ankles on the jaws of the Andes, and set the empty spaces with clusters of Sar-e-Sang lapis lazuli. How else to explain it, the unsick fever of reading this poem, the need to reach for a rabbit and climb right out of your life, into the unease of another?

If “Deux Lapins” were part of a feast, it’d be the blood-dotted cloth napkin you’ve held up to hide the ortolan hunger. Unfold the napkin and let the marks show you a map, both old and unquestionably certain to get you lost. Get lost, which I mean in the best sense. Take a hike, with your pockets weeping, dangerous gems falling from you to mark the way back to where you haven’t yet started.

“O copper, jade, enamel, little saints, / roses for the rabbits of the mountains, purses of blood, / spendthrift travellers”, announces the poem, by way of inscrutable direction. Yet what need for clarity, when you have a mouthful of indigo, a bruise-basket of pebbles, a silence of roses for either ransom or dowry? Every image in this poem is its own codex. Every announcement of the poem is its own open door, alerting you, sojourner, to a path.

It isn’t safe. Take a rabbit or two, as you ascend the Andes, as you swim to the true marine.

Read “Deux Lapins” here.
Nicholas Laughlin’s first book of poems, The Strange Years of My Lifewas published by Peepal Tree Press in 2015.

Puncheon and VetiverThis is the thirtieth and final installment of Puncheon and Vetiver, a Caribbean Poetry Codex created to address vacancies of attention, focus and close reading for/of work written by living Caribbean poets, resident in the region and diaspora. During April, which is recognized as ‘National’ Poetry Month, each installment will dialogue with a single Caribbean poem, available to read online. NaPoWriMo encourages the writing of a poem for each day of April. In answering, parallel discourse, Puncheon and Vetiver seeks to honour the verse we Caribbean people make, to herald its visibility, to read our poems, and read them, and say ‘more’.

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