An on-the-scene report of a childhood abroad. A child’s vision of real-world events made real (and unreal) by the presence of his father. Memories of snow falling on Quebec City’s copper roofs; scientists tracking the location of a sinking submarine near the Russian Coast. Children flipping bright kopeks at a dancing bear outside a flea market; a translator awaking from a suicide bombing with ears ringing, surrounded by destruction. A young boy watching his father report the news on TV as hostages hold wet handkerchiefs to their mouths, trying not to breathe too much.
Across the street, a red sun sets the windows of the Hotel Ukraina on fire. The tallest of Stalin’s seven sisters. We huddle on the couch in our pyjamas. My mother holding a remote in her lap. Static sky, bad reception. The TV clearing its throat. My father’s body, cut in half, moving up and down the screen.
This remarkably confident debut collection offers three long prose poems, each divided into 19 sections, fusing images of bucolic coastal summers, a father fixed by a television broadcast, and the colours of a Moscow winter with vividly depicted scenes of gunfire, media scrums, and live reporting. In this unusual hybrid of the personal and the historical, Dominque Bernier-Cormier tenders alternating perspectives on what is said, what is seen, and where the silence begins.