Ordinary Human Language

by Brian Crane

Our Lady of the Flowers

Something of the poetry of this book is suggested by the scene of Divine’s death in its final pages.

In that scene, Divine pulls her watch from between her thighs, hands it to her mother. Their hands meet, rest together for a moment. Then as she lies there Divine releases from her bowels a warm lake of filth. She sighs, spilling blood from her mouth. Then, sighing again, she breaths her last.

Divine’s funeral occurs in the early pages of the novel, so her death has been long in coming. But when it arrives, it happens unexpectedly at great speed and is horrific and deeply moving. Sentiment is not however its purpose, and the imagery of the scene, as tightly stretched and as densely packed here as it is everywhere in the novel, alludes to grand histories of noble defeat while offering an ironic negation of the trinity. Divine’s dirt, blood and wind echo the divine abstraction, rooting it in the earthiness of her body.

Divine is an assemblage, a magnificent, poetic creation. So her death, a scene conjured by imagination and arranged by figures, is not an end. Immediately, the narrator-protagonist (a prisoner named Jean) anticipates the pleasure of imagining new stories for Divine and closes his book with an account of a wonderfully lewd letter she received from her pimp.

The book lives.

Posted January 22, 2016