About the Author

Russell Morton Brown

Russell Morton Brown is a professor in the department of English at the University of Toronto. An editor for the University of Toronto Quarterly, the editor of The Collected Poems of Al Purdy, and co-editor with Donna Bennett of the New Anthology of Canadian Literature in English, he was also Editorial Director of Poetry at McClelland and Stewart for five years.

Books by this Author
The More Easily Kept Illusions

The More Easily Kept Illusions

The Poetry of Al Purdy
edition:Paperback
also available: eBook
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Excerpt

Alive or Not by Al Purdy

It's like a story

because it takes so long to happen:

a block away on an Ottawa street

I see this woman about to fall

and she collapses slowly

in sections the way you read about

and there just might be time

for me to reach her

running as fast as I can

before her head hits the sidewalk

running as fast as I can

Of course its my wife

I am running toward her now

and there is a certain amount of horror

a time lag in which other things happen

I can almost see flowers break into blossom

while I am running toward the woman

my wife it seems

orchids in the Brazilian jungle

before her head hits the sidewalk

Of course its my wife

I am running toward her now

and there is a certain amount of horror

a time lag in which other things happen

I can almost see flowers break into blossom

while I am running toward the woman

my wife it seems

orchids in the Brazilian jungle

exist like unprovable ideas

until a man in a pith helmet

steps on one and yells Eureka or something

- and while I am thinking about this

her body splashes on the street

her glasses fall broken beside her

with a musical sound under the traffic

and she is probably dead too

Of course I cradle her in my arms

a doll perhaps without life

while someone I do not know

signals a taxi

as the bystanders stare

What this means years later

as I grow older and older

is that I am still running toward her:

the woman falls very slowly

she is giving me more and more time

to reach her and make the grab

and each time each fall she may die

or not die and this will go on forever

this will go on forever and ever

As I grow older and older

my speed afoot increases

each time I am running and reach

the place before she falls every time

I am running too fast to stop

I run past her farther and farther

it's almost like a story

as an orchid dies in the Brazilian jungle

and there is a certain amount of horror

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The Collected Poems of Patrick Lane

The Collected Poems of Patrick Lane

edition:Hardcover
tagged : canadian
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