Poem introduction

In Notre-Dame's south tower, there's the great bourdon bell Emmanuel, which I have been up to touch.

Emmanuel

In the last days, after all he said
and didn’t say, his iron tongue
resting in the open bell of his mouth,
the belfry of his face asleep,
I climbed the spiral steps of the tower –
up the steep steps of the bell cage, to the bourdon,
the great bumblebee, Emmanuel.
I stared at that bronze weight, the voice of Paris,
as if it was my father’s voice
and I had climbed up his spine,
all thirteen tons of copper and tin,
the clapper half a ton of exorcised iron.
I washed the outside with holy oil for the sick,
the inside with chrism. Let all badness
be banished when he rings. Let the powers of the air
tremble – the hail and lightning
that fell from his tongue on our last days together.
I made the sign of the cross. His note
was F sharp, the hum
deep enough to reverberate through the rest of my life.
I stood upright in him.
I placed myrrh inside his mouth, incense
smoking like a last cigarette.
I praised him. I assembled the priests.
I mourned his death.
Storm clouds dispersed. Thunderbolts scattered.
I tolled in Sabbaths. I raised
my father’s life to its hoists and rang him until I was deaf.
I proclaimed peace after bloodshed.

from (forthcoming) Fauverie (Seren, 2014), © Pascale Petit 2014, used by permission of the author and the publisher

Recordings

Pascale Petit

Pascale Petit Reading from Her Poems

1The Strait-jackets

£0.89

2Embrace of the Electric Eel

£0.89

3Self-Portrait with Fire Ants

£0.89

4Self-Portrait as a Warao Violin

£0.89

5The Ant Glove

£0.89

6Landowners

£0.89

7The Snake House

£0.89

8My Mother's Perfume

£0.89

9The Second Husband

£0.89

10Atlas Moth

£0.89

11Hieroglyph Moth

£0.89

12My Birth

£0.89

13Memory (I)

£0.89

14The Bus

£0.89

15Remembrance of an Open Wound

£0.89

16The Broken Column

£0.89

17Self-Portrait with Monkeys

£0.89

18What the Water Gave Me (VI)

£0.89

19To Her Unborn Child

£0.89

20Hoopoe Boy

£0.89

21Arrival of the Electric Eel

£0.89

23Fauverie IV (Black Jaguar)

£0.89

24Black Bird

£0.89

25Fauverie V (North China Leopard)

£0.89

26A Tray of Frozen Songbirds

£0.89

27Emmanuel

£0.89

28My Father's City

£0.89

29Harpy Eagle Father

£0.89

30Lunette

£0.89

31The Hudson Remembers

£0.89

Books by Pascale Petit