Shroove Smelt

sample rough draft sample

Shroove Smelt

in the weeks leading up to Shroove

we village children would dress as smelt

and run through the streets

squeaking and calling for the adults

to come out to confess their sins

because it was due to those sins

that the smelt stocks were depleted

it was due to their disrespect for the scared pole

that the moose were in decline

the adult men would follow us children

moaning and beating their foreheads till they bled

we would lead them to the strip bars

to make the first of their confessions

where they wailed so loud

the loose saxes couldn’t be heard

as the women danced in the dark

on the final day of Shrove

we children would swarm up and down

the 10001 steps of the cathedral

forming dioramas from the Biblia Coochineal

to instruct the men in the ways of righteousness

the bishop would smash

a florescent lightbulb

once each diorama was complete

then we would quickly form the next one

till the story of the moose was told

till the men were longing to escape

the searing glare of our child eyes

they knew they were to blame

we boys dreaded becoming guilt ridden adults

we hoped to avoid the responsibilities

the village would assign us

when we were old enough

to shoulder the shame of being human

after the dioramas

we children would swarm the Whistling Woods

in random groups of four or five

to chase out the hungry hidden men

there was no avoiding the smart of guilt

we would find them

we would hound them

till they came barefooted

hair caked with moose blood

to the cathedral to present themselves to the bishop

to listen the choir

sing hymns of renunciation and accusation

‘vile adults in the eyes of the creator’

‘the moose has spoken’

the days after Shroove were ones of rest

we were all exhausted from the running

our smelt costumes were repaired

then stored carefully in airtight rubber bins

till next years

when the cycle of fertility and recrimination

would begin all over again

shoes snow shoes

I can’t tell you how much fun I had with this series as I pushed the absurdity and reality as far as I could with each piece. Some going farther and stranger in directions that came unexpectedly to me.

I grew in a very Catholic neighbourhood – there was convent down the street from me. I grew up with vague notions of their various holidays. The less the occasion involved gifts or candy the less I knew.

path the path less taken

With Smelt I delve into a rambling mix of beliefs, ceremonies and out right silliness. With lots of real threads at the same time. There were several local festivals with parades, dressing up and the like, during the summer. None with a religious foundation like Shroove Smelt, mind you.

I enjoyed the various ways my over-worked tropes – moose, choir, the strip bars make casual appearances but gain a more creepy resonance at the same time ‘the moose has spoken.’

emerge let the buried rest

The extra ‘o’s are deliberate. I wanted to be playful with various pagan elements at the time, after all much of Catholicism has co-opted those old harvest festivals so I’m also repurposing them just as they did.


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