“Swirling like water
against rugged rocks
time goes around and around
Thus with a Haiku does begin Denis Theriault’s beautifully tragic book. The protagonist of the story is a twenty seven year old postman, Bilodo. Bilodo, a bachelor lives in a small one bedroom unit on the 10th floor of a non-decrepit apartment in Montreal. Incorrigibly inquisitive he has the curious and illegal habit of steaming open personal letters before sealing them back and making deliveries to the rightful recipients. During one such clandestine episode, Bilodo stumbles upon a single sheet of paper containing a Haiku poetry written by a lady named Segolene who lives in Guadalupe. Addressed to her friend Grandpre, the poetry piques the curiosity of Bilodo. A few more letters later, he incorrigibly falls in love with Segolene. What was intended to be a mere exercise in satiating curiosity takes on ominous proportions as an unfortunate event manifests itself throwing Bilodo’s entire life off course.
Theriault embellishes the Haiku form of writing in this prose poetic work of great emotional value. The letters of Segolene morph into various forms of human behaviour beginning tentatively with courteous lines before finding full expression in an unconstrained burst of sizzling eroticism. Bilodo wrestles with an inner and innate sense of morality but even an honest feeling of guilt is not enough from putting paid to his amoral act of dangerous voyeurism. His determination to master the art of Haiku to try and reach closer to Segolene – even if in a purely ephemeral manner – betrays his desperation to attain the unattainable. Meanwhile Segolene unaware of the cathartic act being played out thousands of miles away, but involving her at the core, continues communicating with an unrestrained passion belying a pure innocence and an unadulterated eagerness.
Bilodo’s behavior makes us both hate him and sympathise with him alternatively. All the pent up hate accumulated over a dew pages dissipates before giving way to genuine sympathy as he is rocked by events beyond his simple comprehension and feeble grasp. Here is a man who is virtually caught between the devil and the deep blue sea. Will Bilodo be brave, composed and prudent enough to overcome this poetic conundrum befalling him? Or will he succumb to his inner desire and plunge deeper and deeper into a quicksand from which there is absolutely no return?
Denis Theriault’s Postman
Prying open poetry’s core
Dangerous doors open