The New Compass: A Critical Review

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Catch as Catch Can
Mary Kathryn Arnold

Ps. 139:7 "Whither shall I go from they spirit? or wither shall I flee from thy presence?"

On the way home from Fox Point, a fair though friable house
catches their attention (Smokey and the Miracles' "What's
So Good About Goodbye?" crooning through the car's speakers): "Look,
it's got eyebrows over the windows, just like ours."

Gingerbread men, they drive with celerity round the cove
on the dry roads, their raisin eyes apt to dissolve should they
test the waters. They speculate on the owner's line of
work, whether the salary that keeps the house be that of

the cooper, the weaver, the plumber, the printer, whether
the tricks of the trade be barrels, looms, pipes, or sheets, canals
for conveying the cider, the thread, the bilge, the ink. Or
should the building be wrought on the conceit more fortified

than what's in the cider-cup, its owner paid with paper
the colour of celery, its stockyard filled with the bonds
of knowledge, what divides contango day from the rest? 'Neath
idle persiflage of the greener grass across the

cove, over the bay, the ginger inhabitants ponder
the fish and foxes, whose cool wit could reverse the
oven's magic, but the lamb, whose father asks: "Little lamb,
who made thee? Who made the eyes but I?" The summerbrown

ginger passengers flee the bestiary's musings as
they come full circle back to their own eyebrow house, its eyes
raised almost to the clerestory, but no, the attic
is under the roof and nothing else (though the roof be lined

with crenellated parapets), back to the old woman's
kitchen, back to Mother Hubbard's cupboard, back to the
electrical sockets childproofed. The brown, green and white of
the house, ginger pieces fixed together with icing the

colour of grass and froth, could as well make cookies, sweet dark
rounds decorated with miniature shrubs of wormwood, no
milk for tears, glasses spilled to shroud the cove in milky fog,
shades and textures usually reserved for night, Orion's dog.

Arnold, Mary Kathryn. "Catch as Catch Can." The New Compass: A Critical Review 4 (December 2004) []

For more information contact the editors:
Michael John DiSanto and Sarah Emsley