Ode to a QR Code
in the ornithology wing at the NaturalHistory Museum, which I cannot scan becausemy position, alignment, and timing are not insync with the encryptor. All the minor correctionsin the world cannot replace broken trust, what was thereat the start, a non-human voice, a silence that liveslike a standing wave. When a scanner, and I mean I,cannot recognize a symbol, it will be treatedas an erasure. Chances are, coloured hands touched thoseskins first. Coloured hands kept those blues and yellows alive,while tiny black squares in large white squares were envelopedby quiet zones. Are we not so lucky EmilyDickinson's editor found her handwriting akinto fossil bird tracks? Every sign between me, dead bird,you, uniquely mapped to the sane polynomial?All the truth funds in the world cannot replace error.Justice is not the thing that seeks Quick Response, pattern,print, is not the thing that seeks conversion. Tag yourself.
Excerpted from Parasitic Oscillations by Madhur Anand.
Copyright © 2022 Madhur Anand.
Published by McClelland & Stewart, a division of Penguin Random House Canada Limited.
Reproduced by arrangement with the Publisher.
All rights reserved.
Madhur Anand is the author of the book of poems, A New Index for Predicting Catastrophes (M&S/PRHC, 2015) and the experimental memoir, This Red Line Goes Straight to Your Heart (Strange Light/PRHC, 2020). A New Index was a finalist for the Trillium Book Award. This Red Line won the 2020 Governor General’s Literary Award for Nonfiction. Her second collection of poems Parasitic Oscillations (M&S/PRHC, 2022) has just been released and was listed by the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation as their top pick in poetry for Spring 2022. She is a professor of ecology and sustainability at the University of Guelph, and was appointed the inaugural director of the Guelph Institute for Environmental Research.
“I devoured this book in a two-hour sitting, fascinated by the way Madhur Anand writes about the nineteenth-century egg and bird research collections of A. O. Hume. She writes into mathematical simulations of birdsong and talks back to letters and diaries kept by A. O. Hume. The songs and feathers and flight patterns and habitats of extinct and extant bird species flutter through these pages, and Anand’s own life (and, perhaps, our own) is in these pages too. Parasitic Oscillations is a fascinating medley of science, philosophy, and art.”
“[A] collection of innovative poems and images . . . posing questions about ecology, power, and migration.”
“The poems in Madhur Anand’s Parasitic Oscillations track a variety of losses with all the rigor and care of her scientific training. She segues seamlessly from the loss of bird species, to the loss of a motherland and a mother, to the loss of presumed safety during the pandemic. A reader may feel a series of trap doors opening beneath her feet. This is a new, more inclusive and global eco-poetics where we too are specimens. As she warns at the end of one segment: ‘Tag yourself.’”
—Rae Armantrout, Pultizer-prize winning author of Conjure