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% Blucheard’s Egg 7 washing along or strewn on land where the: water had already begus to recede were new or fost monet the junk we were used to seeing in it. The sky was still ae tos ee clea torte whe zno hands were poking up. ! had wanted something more ke tragedy. Two people had actually been drowned there during the night, but we did not learn that until later. Ths is what I have remembered most clearly abiout Buddy: the ordinary-looking wreckage, the fatness of the water, the melancholy light. Loulou; or, The Domestic Life of the Language g ploulou is in the coach-house, wedging clay. Shes ing a par of running shoes, once white, now grey, gover men’s wool work socks, a purple Indian-print carton Skirt, and a rustcoloured smock, so heavy with clay dct Gt hangs on her like brocade, the sleeves rolled up past elbow. This is her favourite working outit. fo the ‘music of The Magic Flute, brought to her by CBC stores, lifts the slab of clay and slams it down, gives a half turn, lft and slams. This is to get the air bbb thing will explode in the kiln. Some potters would hire an apprentice to do this, but not Loulow, 18 true she has apprentices, two of them; she gets Jihem through the government as free trainees. But they Spake plates and mugs from her designs, about all they Git for She doesn't consider them suitable for wedging slay, with their puny litle biceps and mateh-stick wee © poorly developed compared with her own soll Groothly muscled arms and broad, capable but shapely Bands, so often admired by the pocts. Marmoreal, neck sai , actually—causing Loulou to. make Be of her frequent sorties into the dictionary, to find ont Pphether or not she'd been insulted ‘Once she had done this openly, whenever they'd used ord about her she didn't understand, but when theyed Beovered she was doing it they'd found it amusing cod dl started using words lie that on purpose, “Louiow is Eo gcomorphie,” one of them would say, and when she Eould blush and scowl, another would take it up, “Not Ply that, she’s fundamentally chthonic.” “Telluric,” a ie Bhiebear’s Egg id would pipe up. Then they would laugh. Shes abd that Gre only thing to dof to ignore them. But Shes not so dumb as they think, she remembers the ‘words, and when they aren't watching she sneaks a ook it the Shorter Oxford (Kept in the study which really belongs to only one of them but which she thinks of as tah, washng her hands Sst so che wont eae any tale signs of clay on the page. the coats their journals, to, taking the same precau- tions, She suspects they know she does this. Its her way ‘of keeping up with what they are really thinking about her, or maybe only with what they want her to think they're thinking. The journals are supposed to be secret, but Loulou considers it her right and also a kind of duty to read them. She views it in the same light as her mother viewed going through the family’s sock and ‘nderwvear drawers, t0 sore out the clean things from the fones they'd already worn and stufed back in. This is ‘hat the poets’ journals are like. Socks, mostly, but you never know what you will nd cee “Loulou is becoming more metonymous,” she’ read recently This has been bothering her for days. Some- times she longs to say to them, "Now just what in hell did you mean by that?” But she knows she would get nowhere. a “Loulou isthe foe of abstract ordes,” one would say ‘This isa favourite belief of theirs. “Loulou is the foe of abstract ordure. “Loulou is the Great Goddess.” “Loulou is the great mattress. Tt-would end up with Loulou telling them to pss of ‘When that didn't stop them, she would tell them they ‘couldn't have any more baked chicken if they went on like that. Threatening to deprive them of food usually ‘works. ‘Overtl, Loulou takes care to express scorn for the poets: though not for them, exactly—they have their points —but for their pickiness about words. Her mother Loulou; or, The Domestic Life of the Language 49 would have said they were Bnicky eaters. “Who cares what a thing’ called?” she says to them. “A piece of ‘bread is a piece of bread. You want some or not?” And she bends over to slide three of her famous loaves, high and nicely browned, out of the oven, and the poets admire her ass and haunches. Sometimes they do this openly, like other men, growling and smacking their pe, pretending to be soit workers Thy ke pretending to be other things: in the summers they pk Baseball games together ard make a big fae ook having the right hats. Sometimes, though, they do it silently, and Loulou only knows about it from the poems they write afterwards. Loulou ean tell these poems are about her, even though the nouns change: “iny lady,” “my friend’ lady,” “my woman,” “my friend's woman,” “my wife,” “my friend wile,” and, when necessary for the length of the line, “the wife of my friend.” Never “girl” though, and never her name. Ass and hiaunches aren't Loulous words either; she would siy butt. Loulou doesn't know anything about music but she likes listening to it. Right now, the Queen of the Night runs up her trill, and Loulou pauses to see ifshe'll make it to the top. She does, just barely, and Loulou, feeling vicarious triumph, rams her fist into the mound of clay Then she covers it with a sheet of plastic and goes to the sink to wash her hands. Soon the oven timer will go off and one of the poets, maybe her husband but you never ‘know: will call her on the intercom to come and see about the bread. It isn’t that they wouldn't take it out themselves, if she asked them to. Among the four or ive of them they'd likely manage. Its just that Loulow doesn't trust them. She decided long ago that none of ‘them knows his left tit from a hole in the ground when it jcomes to the real world. Ifshe wants the bread taken out pwhen its done but not overdone, and she does, she'll wave to do it herself, She wonders who will be in the kitchen'at the main jouse by now: her first husband for sure, and the man Bluebeard’ Egg cy begs - she lived with after that for three years without being P ee cin husband, the one she has now, ‘and two ex-lovers: Helf a dozen of them maybe, sitting around the kitchen table, drinking her coffee and eating her hermit cookies and talking about whatever they talk about when she isn't theré. In the past there = have been periods of strain among them, especially during the times when Loulou has been switching over, but they're all getting along well enough now. They run a collective oetry magazine, which. keeps them out of trouble ‘mostly. The name of this magazine is Comma, but among therzlis the poets refer to its Coma As partis they ‘enjoy going up to young female would-be poets (‘proup. fen thy eal te behind ce backs, which means “poetry groupies”), and saying, “I'd like to put you in a Coma.” A while ago Comma published mostly poems without commas, but this is going out now, just as beards are going out in favour of moustaches and even shaving. ‘The more daring poets have gone so faras to cut of their sideburns. Loulou is not quite sure whether or not she approves of this. She doesn't know whether the poets are good poets, whether the poems they write in such profusion are any good. Loulou has no opinion on this subject: all that tatters is what they are writing about her. Their poems set published in books, but what does that mean? Not ‘money, thats for sure. You don’t make any money with poetry, the poets tell her, unless you sing and play the Buitar too, Sometimes they give readings and make @ couple of hundred bucks. For Loulou that’ three medium-sized casseroles, with lids, On the other hand, they don't have her expenses. Part of her expenses is them, Loulou can't remember exactly how she got mixed up with the poets. It wasn't that she had any special thing for poets:as such: it just happened that way. After the first one, the others seemed to follow along, naturally, almost as if they were tied onto each other in along line Loulou; or The Domestic Life of the Language 51 With a picce of F eas so bi ets. They're alway nagging her about working too hand,” "° “YS Bob was the frst one, and also her frst husband. He twas in art school at the same time she was, until he Gecided he wasnt suited for it. He wamt. prctiod f GnouEh, he let things dry out: palit, clay, even the lat, 10's in his tiny refrigerator, as Loulou discovered the first night she'd slopt with him. She devoted the ore morning to cleaning up his ki saucers of mummified half-gnawed chicken L ftuarterpackages of two-month-old sliced bacon, snd the bits of cheese, oily on the outside and hard a ak Toul bas alvaye hated clutter, which she defines, ‘ough not in so many words, as matter out of its proper place, Bob looked on, sullen but appreciate oer hurled and scoured. Possibly this was why he decided Hove her: becauje she would do this sort of thing, Wike he said though was, “You complete me. What he also said was that he'd fallen in love with her name. All the poets have done this, one after the othee The frst symptoms that they ask her whether Loulog short for something—Louise, maybe? Wher they look at her-in than the sex, though Loulou lik the poets have been good in bed, But then, Lerien ew {ecver slept with a man she did not consider good ix bea hes beginning to think this is because 4 low et ee because ‘she has I At first Loulos was intrigued by