Karen Whiteson's 'Espoir'


It begins with the mother’s announcement of her own impending end. The question of how will they all fare without her fills the screen. Outliving her prologue her face fading upon her pillow so death becomes imperceptible. The camera hugs the edges of each scene its ever-present proximity bringing the viewer into its sphere.  

Mouchette always the same yet different hovers and lurches. Her fetish for mud. For an instant lit up in a luminous smile as she negotiates the bumper car so fleetingly espoir can find no purchase there.  The camera drinks it all in her pouring of milk into the bowls. In this familiar economy she belongs to her mother and no-one else. That gin’s her father’s. Poverty like photography lays bare with the clarity of facts rendered visible.  At the final moment Mouchette is offscreen topping up the gin bottle with water. Its secret medicine she’s just administered to the dying.  Pouring it sans knowing the moment of mother’s death has come and gone for the unconscious has always been an orphan.

Viscous she passes through the terrain and it through her. She thinks she’s been through a cyclone which no one else in the village will and/or can corroborate.  Cyclone what cyclone?  Submerged into the ripples of the stream where you watch her drown.  An utterly private moment returned to its source.  Planted squarely in the thick of some mortal evaporation you’re left knowing you’ve seen her in the flux of monochrome.                                                                        

*Karen Whiteson has a story included in  Unthology 1 and her essay on Cocteau’s  La Belle et la Bete appeared in Artesian 3.

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