身披狮皮 (In the Skin of a Lion) by Michael Ondaatje (英国病人作者) The joyful will stoop with sorrow, and when you have gone to the earth I will let my hair grow long for your sake, I will wander through the wilderness in the skin of a lion. THE EPIC OF GILGAMESH Never again will a single story be told as though it were the only one. JOHN BERGER This is a story a young girl gathers in a car during the early hours of the morning. She listens and asks questions as the vehicle travels through darkness. Outside, the countryside is unbetrayed. The man who is driving could say, "In that field is a castle," and it would be possible for her to believe him. She listens to the man as he picks up and brings together various corners of the story, attempting to carry it all in his arms. And he is tired, sometimes as elliptical as his concentration on the road, at times overexcited. "Do you see?" He turns to her in the faint light of the speedometer. Driving the four hours to Marmora under six stars and a moon. She stays awake to keep him company. 1 LITTLE SEEDS
IF HE IS AWAKE early enough the boy sees the men walk past the farmhouse down First Lake Road. Then he stands at the bedroom window and watches: he can see two or three lanterns between the soft maple and the walnut tree. He hears their boots on gravel. Thirty loggers, wrapped up dark, carrying axes and small packages of food which hang from their belts. The boy walks downstairs and moves to a window in the kitchen where he can look down the driveway. They move from right to left. Already they seem exhausted, before the energy of the sun. Sometimes, he knows, this collection of strangers will meet the cows being brought in from a pasture barn for milking and there will be a hushed politeness as they stand to the side of the road holding up the lanterns (one step back and they will be in a knee-high snowdrift), to let the cows lazily pass them on the narrow road. Sometimes the men put their hands on the warm flanks of these animals and receive their heat as they pass. They put their thin-gloved hands on these black and white creatures, who are barely discernible in the last of the night's darkness. They must do this gently, without any sense of attack or right. They do not own this land as the owner of the cows does. The holsteins pass the silent gauntlet of men. The farmer who follows the cows, nods. He passes this strange community most mornings during the winter months, the companionship a silent comfort to him in the dark of five A.M. – for he has been rounding up cattle for over an hour to take them to the milking barns. 第 1 页 共 119 页 http://www.en8848.com.cn/ 原版英语阅读网
The boy who witnesses this procession, and who even dreams about it, has also watched the men working a mile away in the grey trees. He has heard their barks, heard their axes banging into the cold wood as if into metal, has seen a fire beside the creek where water is molecular and grey under the thin ice. The sweat moves between their hard bodies and the cold clothes. Some die of pneumonia or from the sulphur in their lungs from the mills they work in during other seasons. They sleep in the shacks behind the Bellrock Hotel and have little connection with the town. Neither the boy nor his father has ever been into those dark rooms, into a warmth which is the odour of men. A raw table, four bunks, a window the size of a torso. These are built each December and dismantled the following spring. No one in the town of Bellrock really knows where the men have come from. It takes someone else, much later, to tell the boy that. The only connection the loggers have with the town is when they emerge to skate along the line of river, on homemade skates, the blades made of old knives. For the boy the end of winter means a blue river, means the disappearance of these men. *** He longs for the summer nights, for the moment when he turns out the lights, turns out even the small cream funnel in the hall near the room where his...
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