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The Globe and Mail

Globe poetry: Grendel’s Mother by Paul Vermeersch


A monster is uncontainable in form. My son

cannot contain himself. He has too many,

is too much. He can't be filled because he flings

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himself wide at the slightest brush.

He is a spill. His fear is monstrous, too. Just try

to calculate the scale – the nightmares

nightmares have – how in his mind the count

from flash to thunderclap is always zero.

Whose name is that? A monster's glance is one-way.

There is no in. So build your halls to keep him out,

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to measure him against the measured walls –

whittle your little sticks and look away.

I sing at him. He makes a face. I show him

my paintings of stallions that gallop. Dream, my son,

I say, of their hoof beats. "Hoot-beasts!" he cries,

and spills again, uncontained, the gore of his judgments.

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To mark National Poetry Month, Globe Arts will publish original new poems throughout the month of April.

Paul Vermeersch is a poet, artist, editor, and teacher. His five books of poetry include The Reinvention of the Human Hand and Don't Let It End Like This Tell Them I Said Something. He lives in Toronto.

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