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Jeri Theriault

Artist’s Statement

I build walls with ripped up cups paper

bags & postcards add charcoal & rage

ink & regret. I hope for the tiger’s

arrival (or owl or lumbering rhino)

to tremble your gaze quaking

color & disclosure. Such a small room

this white page for blue-black & yellow

in teeth & gowns. I put wings

on the tiger. The angel wants grass

beneath her toes speaks on difficult

issues of ascension. She condescends

to the tiger whose earth-muscle

heats this scene. She is the better

hunter. More bitter. Hungrier.

20 Moor Street, 1934

I share this room with Reny

and Wilfred who go to work

before I get up.

This morning I hear Maman talking

to baby Paul through the floor grate

and Papa not speaking English

before he leaves to cut down trees all day.

I like our house even though

my little sister Jo

died here. I like all my sisters

especially Rita and I like this bedroom

full of curse words

and smoke. When I get home from school

I draw stars on the wall behind the dresser

with the soft pencil

I took from the art supplies Sister Francis

handed out. It’s a sin to steal

but I couldn’t help it.

I hum Maman’s floating song

wishing for deep blue and yellow

as I smudge over

the pink wallpaper roses. I draw Jupiter’s

moons like in the book Sister

showed us.

I give the biggest moon Papa’s eyes

sketch stars thick as his freckles.

When the door slams

and onions sizzle and the first step creaks

the stairs I push the dresser back

my sky almost hidden.

20 Moor Street, 1940

Willy and Ikie and Ray serious and laughing

work in the paper mill.

Right now, they’re making a bench

and shelves for the shed.

Me I’m making a new rocker for Maman.

I love how the pine gives in