La montagne rouge blew me away the first time I saw it. And the second time. The writing is so raw and visceral, I almost prefer to read the words aloud to myself on the page than see the play in performance. ≈
From La montagne rouge (SANG)
by Steve Gagnon
≈ translated by Peter McCambridge
YOUNG WOMAN, in darkness
These days, there’s winter
and there’s you.
And it’s almost the same thing.
Winter is cold,
and you’re no longer with me.
It’s almost the same thing.
Light on the young woman
Here you go.
I acted out a letter to you.
This morning I screamed a brutal letter for you.
I revealed to the whole world, in the middle of the bus
standing in the middle of the bus
how I’ve been torn apart
how guilty I feel.
My guilt and my love and my rage, too, my tears.
And my madness.
But mainly my guilt.
And my tears.
It was a ridiculous gun
maybe a hunting rifle
it might have had lead bullets, I don’t know
it was long like a hunting rifle
it was absolutely ridiculous
I was absolutely ridiculous
but I stuck it right in their faces.
Right in their surprised little faces.
And then I said “I’m firing.”
I said “Bye. I’m firing.”
“Kiss each other again and I’m firing.”
“I’m firing my ridiculous hunting rifle.
It might be a lead bullet, but I’m firing.
I might not know how to put the bullets in the rifle, but I’m firing. If I don’t work out how to put the bullets in the rifle, I’ll hold it in one hand and throw the bullets at you with the other. It will be weird, it will be ridiculous, but I’ll shoot the pair of you some time or another. Some time or another I’ll fire at you like two scumbags, like two empty Coke cans, like two crows, like two witches.”
Sometimes I bump into people I haven’t seen in a while who ask me – of course they ask me – how I am, what’s new, who ask me how
I tell them things are great, couldn’t be better, that we might be heading off on a trip somewhere
that it would be fun anyways
that you’re back at school and really enjoying it
that your parents moved so we got an apartment together
you and me
that it’s hard to believe but you cook more often than I do, that you watch all kinds of cooking shows and you’re really good, that we’ve ended up with all kinds of spices, our place is overrun with them
that we’re looking for a new fridge because the old one packed it in
I ask if they don’t happen to know anyone who would sell us theirs
I tell them you’re working so hard
that you’re a pilot
that doesn’t surprise them,
you’ve never been afraid of heights
that you fly the big white planes
that time flies
that sometimes we just manage to see each other
That makes them laugh.
I haven’t started telling people you’re dead.
I’ve come back here
to our mountain
the red mountain
the mountain of love
the mountain of blood.
I’ve come back here a year after you, without really knowing why.
To try something.
To hear you.
To talk to myself like some stupid bitch, by the sound of things.
A fucking headless chicken.
That would do me good.
And hold nothing back
let it all out
it might tear me up again, but as long as something happens, right?
Shout at the top of my lungs long enough for
some of the words I’ve spit out to fall on the right spot
and go down into the earth
and join you
For a while back there I was naïve and I might have said:
… find you
and… bring you back.
I had long enough to work out that was never going to happen, mainly because of the laws of physics, but also because death is disgusting
I hate death
I fucking hate it.
And nobody says a word in front of it.
We don’t cry or shout because not knowing where it ends drives us mad
where it ends
where the “Thank Christ it’s over, that’s it!” comes in.
It doesn’t seem real.
We put on a show for everyone around us. Not wanting to traumatize anyone.
We decide to live with it. We pretend to be normal, we pretend that everything’s OK.
God, I think it would really do me some good to get together with everyone else on earth who’s worked out that in death there isn’t just death, but that it’s terrible.
It would’ve been easier to see you die with those women who cover their heads with veils
and get down on their knees and wail
the ones that fall
the ones with the wrinkled faces to explain their pain.
The ones that strip off and draw
the ones that sing for nights on end to drive out whatever’s hurting them and who won’t stop so long as there’s still something pissing them off.
The ones who get together
and share their feelings.
The ones who display their dead on mountains and never forget them.
I’d eat a whole forest to try and get back
that feeling of calm I had when
every night with you
it felt like all of nature was pouring into me.
I want you to fuck me.
Where are you when I touch myself at night and think of you. Hey? Where the fuck are you?
I haven’t come back to ask for help or pray
or hope that nature comes to my rescue.
With you not here–
it’s like nature for me, these days, is just a photo of seaweed stuck to the side of an aquarium, you know?
I’ve come back here to stand still for a while.
Properly. For two minutes.
Stand still like winter does when it’s cold.
Stand still like deserts do when they’re dry.
Let myself be consumed like something burning up.
The flames of a sun that sears the roadkill off our highways.
Calm down a little.
it’s going to rain
it’s going to rain
it reminds me of you.
You couldn’t just settle down somewhere, could you?
You always had this wind here in your belly and in the hands worrying at your skin
that made you change sides.
You turned right around.
The slightest move made you uncomfortable.
You always ended up closing the windows
bringing the chairs in off the deck.
I’ve come here today to celebrate you and to hate your fucking guts.
I’ve come here to talk to myself about you
to remember you
to see you again.
You, my castle of Atlantis.
It’ll hurt, I suppose, but I hope it will be great.
A relief anyways.
To touch you
to feel you close to me.
I need a big, long walk without going anywhere
I need – do you get it? – once and for all
to exorcize the demon with you and tell you
for the moment
to hear you
talk with you
And for you to talk to me, my love. I’m not kidding here.
I feel like a bit of a freak but I need you to talk to me.
I need to feel you
and for you to talk to me.
≈ ≈ ≈
YOUNG MAN appears
The Red Mountain.
Our hundred square feet of unknown turf.
You called it our heaven.
What? The Red Mountain?
OK. The Red Mountain.
You don’t know the song?
Here in this small room
Sleep has stolen you but
Strange noises keep me awake
I can see your body is a boat
Keeping you afloat in dreams.
(Diary, page 2, September 28, 2008)
Given that at the minute I have to concentrate on being able to breathe, I told Mom I was dropping out of school.
Until January, if all goes well.
I need to breathe a little.
I need to come back to life because I’m just floating between dreams and nightmares during the day and hell and dread at night.
Blow me out it hurts
I need your air.
I told you about red mountains that rise out of water
I told you about a house under three full moons
And I wonder what you’re dreaming on your silent journey
And caressing your forehead I tell you more stories.
Are you happy to be on my side in this world of billions?
Should we continue this ride that hasn’t even begun?
My body is a boat and your body is a boat
Keeping us afloat in dreams.
(Diary, page 3, January 17, 2009)
The holidays were awful, a real shit Christmas, but it’s funny: today I felt better.
I went back to school this morning, and I was counting on it to take my mind off things, get me thinking about something else.
But it’s funny because when I got on the bus I saw us.
Sitting at the back.
Two lovers who looked so like us, my love.
The guy was handsome like you
like a god.
The girl was radiant like me
like an angel.
They make me feel better.
It’s funny, eh?
They kiss like kings hiding gold in their mouths.
All day long I thought of them
and it made me feel better.
I went to my classes like everyone else
I bought my books like everyone else
I did it all in tears but at least I did it.
I think things are looking up.
YOUNG MAN and YOUNG WOMAN
My body is a boat and you are travelling in me. ≈