Oomska is honoured and proud to inaugurate its ‘Originals’ department with ‘Clever Elsa’, a sequence of poems by Christine Karatnytsky.
Clever Elsa at the Dance
The giantesses were in flowered dresses at Peg Moore’s last Saturday night.
Dorothy Bogle, Clara Mason and Claire Leichtenberger laughed and lolled
as Hope Harvey unpinned tight curls.
Mamie McGrane and Mamie Barron — the Mamies –
bustled around with gravy stains on their large bosoms,
filling plates with Swedish meatballs.
Helen Ellingson and Julia Stokely cleared the middle of the room for the dance,
so me and Wilkie, age nine, got pressed against the windows
by Jean Rowan’s gigantic hips.
Dainty eyeglasses sparkled in the lamplight.
Suddenly, someone jostled the coffee table
and the bubble vase fell over, sending a river of water across the floor.
Jean Rowan said, Hurry, Wilkie, get the cloth.
Don’t you know how to mop a spill, you little thing you?
Clever Elsa Gets a Hat
The collie found them on the meadow, Coyote,
where they fell, shed by Haudenosaunee
who creates himself anew each Spring.
When I wear this fallen in my hair
upstretched palms, fingers reaching,
parted hands rising from my skull,
I’ll hear you better than I did before.
Ready, Coyote, to begin again.
Smooth tines poking up, crocuses of bone in the velvet snow.
Haudenosaunee’s feet leave no mark.
Clever Elsa Keeps a Diary
How did I get here, Coyote?
And why are these notebooks always so hard to find?
The border collie found your cache today:
a cracked femur under the cherry tree I pruned over the summer.
This means you come close to my house and can make bones dance.
Today, I heard the trucks go by, Coyote. I ate moss and brown grass for breakfast, crushing pebbles between my teeth. The collie found your cache.
Haudenosaunee’s white pine rises high with a new fringe of snow.
I am a giantess, Coyote, gap-toothed, with large hands and feet.
I — it was I — who strode up into the meadow from the shadowed path.
A sapling shivered in wonder, torn and dangling in my wake.
I wear Haudenosaunee’s antlers. Mr. Peebles’ lies mean nothing to me.