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Meredith Quatermain

Matter 4: Organic in-organs
Matter 6: The hard Seed-halves of Softness
Matter 9: To texture to verb
Matter 10: A World-thing, a State of Powder


Matter 4: Organic in-organs



So trifling to occur together

the finlike limbs of hard and soft

light-dim-darken our shades of difference,

our bumps and ropes of plumage

in flashes, flights and tints of mind.


What matters velvets a pierced dream.

What matters plays the dugong to the whale.

What matters runs the greyhound and the racehorse

to thickened stems of common and swedish turnips –

the perfect elastic of similar,

the bountiful membrane among drums of conjecture.


Thus unctuous bubble of fruitful fields:

solid liquid mush,

ranges the beehives of thought,

the beings of real

abuzz with organs.

Angle of jaw, fold of a wing –

so it is with geography

striking discoveries almost sure to spread

and seize on feebler classes

for swimming species.


The rodents of liquid branched from ancient marsupials,

a quite solid distinction related to rodents

but in points marsupial more than either rodent

or nearly all marsupial or that both rodent and marsupial

conquered by coincidence

but indirectly branched

from one existing rodent: solidity

who fathered density, hardness and friction

with vestigial hearts: rarity, softness and unction.




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Matter 6: The Hard Seed-halves of Softness


That pedigree’s a millstone

we’ve seen in chapter five –

therefore musts and has to have,

the pudding stiffens to spongy

tensed to gritty proof, a kneaded-dough

made stubborn stark and bone.

So causes make addictions.


Yet, up and down

it doesn’t matter

to squirrels that scamper

round a tree-trunk.

Frightened threads dislike a surface,

tighten to gods, then lie in crumbled loops

of limber silk about the rigid crags of Order.


How lovely its flinty marble rock,

its horny granite wrought.

How fine its fossils

of steel and nails,

with debits and credits

in accounts of finches.


Birds utterly lost in belief,

birds collecting forms of time and space,

driven as fishes ever to succeed

in the beehives of thought that bees fashion –

the rules of the beautiful

that bees divine, command

in methods of wax –

honeycomb’s congruity –

its cells of space in the face

of the zigzagged givens.


Vaguely man speaks of species

of hardness and softness

of temper and laxity and their variant forms –

pebbles and corns, wax and plastic,

lithic buckram, or flaccid butter,

the bee’s prismatic vessels in the struggle for existence

a legend of bubbles to inevitable extinction.




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Matter 9: To texture to verb


beached on the coast of specific gravity

at sea with fancy and sand for judgment

wonder steps on clams and mussels of metaphor

to skull and jaw, employing language to preposition.


To part in speech chalk and cheese, a dock

and a daisy – how very like a whale –

the moths, beetles, flies of Matter flutter

to harlequin Abstraction.  Or vamp

the moods and tenses of Intellect.  Then fidget Space

to veer, jibe, sidereal Volition

and shimmer Affection’s galaxy of spasms.


Suppose to patchwork world, hands wings fins

hook in peculiar loops the arteries of eggs in nests,

the spawn of the frog in water

the stripes on the cub of a lion,

the spotted chicks of blackbirds –

hook the framework’s splanchnology.


Suppose the tissue of matter is the change of matter,

its cleavage and strata – suppose we know what changes

changes sense.


It’s touch and go with the cat-tribes and plumage of stuff,

this disparate desperate otherwise.

Yes, we know means eyes and antennae

weave tooth

or grain a home-spun woolly cotton.


To text, to specify –

a whole without coherence

to sprinkle terrain, a world-thing mixed –

pregnant with alloy, laced with entanglement,

and haunted with purity.




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Matter 10: A World-thing, a State of Powder


A state of sand, sawdust, grit or spores,

of mill-stones, graters, rasps and files.

A texture of pestles, mincers, teeth,

of thermions, flour, smoke and debris,

crumblings, rubbings impalpable friability!


Whenever it comes on, whether the seeds be tall or short,

specimens juncture, splice, come unlike – prehensile.

Each is a cosmos, each a mapping of sense, time and thought-work,

a fabric of surprise.


Matter being divisible, every atom may be a consciousness,

tangled with innumerable sparks.  If that is so,

its genera and species too are conscious

and the origin of species a fantastic sentient creature.


What’s it signify to a bird?  Or the colt of a cart-horse?

What’s a man’s millimeter to the beak, nostril, claw,

an eyelid’s blink,

of a pigeon-chick, twelve hours hatched?

Or the pouters, fantails, runts, and barbs that the wind-chimes

chime to unseen fingers.


That matter makes Latin mater and French matière,

Spanish madera and Portuguese madiera.

Mother to wood, timber, anything formed, made.

From Sanskrit ma: build, mold, arrange

as measure and mete and manus, the hand –

that which touches, can be moved, strained, broken.

Its horns shape the animal.


And light from the sun falls and falls

on the man who would be right

on the desperados of despair

on my shopping list: apples bread matter

on the money for books and ideas

on machines who make machines

to fix machines to run machines.

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Born in Toronto, Meredith Quartermain spent her childhood in Ontario and the remote interior of British Columbia. Among her several books of poetry are Terms of Sale, Spatial Relations, A Thousand Mornings, Vancouver Walking, and, with Robin Blaser, Wanders.


Copyright ©2006 by Meredith Quartermain


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