Monday, September 28, 2009

Feast of the Hopeful Sinner

He lived for a time over the bakery on the street where his da was cantered to death by a horse. After his father’s death he was taken in by his great godparents. His mother, unable to deal with the grief of widowhood left town never to be seen or heard from again; her hair twisted in a long braid that reached halfway down her back. The smells from the bakery filled his small squat with a sweet yeasty aroma; confectionary sugar sifted onto doughy bread, sesames and candy charms inlaid on the top and bottommost crust. The baker gave him the three day-old bread, rye and pumpernickel, caraway tarts and pretzels dressed in poppy seeds and chopped onions.

He haggled with a hawker for a newsprint hat. The hawker agreed on 26 ducats to be paid in advance in paper. ‘but ducats come in silver and gold’ he said, his eyes darting to and fro. ‘that’s not my concern’ said the hawker firmly, ‘I deal strictly in paper’. ‘perhaps I could interest you in a pretzel, poppy seeds and hash onions’ he said hopingly. Throwing his arms up, the flaps of his elephantine ears catching in his shirt cuffs, the hawker replied ‘as long as its in paper’. He fashioned a paper hat out of silver and gold ducats, crinkling the edges and brim with the tines of his great grandmamma’s crimping fork.

When the man in the hat first heard the story, told to him by a beggar with a gold tooth, he laughed out loud, his cheeks cowling like a pig’s snout. Stories such as this, fairytales, made him laugh, filling his aching bones with jolly joy. Montferrat Froe of York Somerset sat biding his time weaving his fingers into logical threads. He often sat at the edge of the aqueduct, the stink of dead fish and salt stinging his eyes, his nose bled dry and scabby. Montferrat Froe came once a year to attend the Feast of the Hopeful Sinner, held on the 27th of September in the cloister behind the rector’s habit. This year the feast fell on the 28th, the world moving forward on its axle one day early.

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"Poetry is the short-circuiting of meaning between words, the impetuous regeneration of primordial myth". Bruno Schulz

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