Language is a confusing thing

05 September 2014

Do you ever get your hair confused with your horses? In French, that is. The speaker in this week's Friday poem, 'Use Complete Sentences' by Ian Duhig, remembers all too well just how frustrating language can be, especially when it's not your own. I love the way he runs with his mistake, remembering how 'Dad's grey horses took my breath away', and follows it through to its conclusion – all the more saddening for its understatement.

Enjoy the weekend,
Rosanna, picador.com editor

'Use Complete Sentences'

French oral practice: Teacher’s nervous look
to where I stand in turn and raise my book:

‘My father has grey horses on his head . . .’
She snorts. Her face grows dark while mine glows red.

flogging dead brains for something true to say
when Dad’s grey horses took my breath away:

they took the air to run rings round the sun.
Now (with a crib) I work through Yang Tzu-yun,

where horses were his metaphors for breath.
These sentences are sentences of death.

The Speed of Dark 'Use Complete Sentences' is published in The Speed of Dark by Ian Duhig.

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