"Landscape with Snakebite"

Susan Gillis

Susan Gillis’s (she/her) most recent book is Yellow Crane (Brick Books, 2018), a meditation on ecologies of place, writing, and desire. A member of the collaborative group Yoko’s Dogs, she also works as an editor and mentor.

“‘Landscape with Snakebite’ imagines a non-existent Peter Doig painting derived from his Pelican series, in which a figure borrowed by the artist from a found photograph turns up in a variety of contexts. I am smitten by Doig’s palimpsests and recursive returns to subject matter in evolving and variable sites.”

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Stands in a dugout canoe,
won’t talk.

Matted hair, stringy beard,
cloth-wound skinny hips.

Everything hot and loud,
dripping with painted sweat.

The river dark
under overhanging trees.

High insect chirr.
Low slupp pah-slupp on the pole.

Stares right past me—
no, through.

(Upstream, I heard, a bushmaster
bit the leg off a quarryman.
People have died of less.)

(At night, flying over,
the quarry gleams
like a rare and enormous orchid.)

Where did he come from?
When did he appear?

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