Pine Barrens (Pt. II)

(Editor’s note: the below passage is the Kuri/Sashi/Kuse section of Greg Giovanni’s “Pine Barrens.” By this point in the story the Wiccans (Waki & Wakitsure) have traveled into the New Jersey pine barrens in search of their lost companion and have come upon an unmarked grave mound. The sun has faded from the sky and in the distance they see a child with a lantern (the Shite) approaching through the gathering gloom. They talk to the child and learn that the grave contains his family. In the following section the child hints at his true identity.)

Kuri
SHITE:
No moon will reveal the black pearl’s ascension.

JI:
The water of life receding as the black orb rises.
A new filth on the old mound will not freshly show.
Under the moonless weeds, dark, the wound lies hidden.
A gaping mouth of green pain screams silently.

Sashi
SHITE:
Where you see a mound of earth—once stood a house.

JI:
Swamp soup of mosquito eggs—larvae floating dead.
‘Possums, rats scurry from a swollen shack
A shack of tar-paper and pine and infinite hunger.

Kuse
JI:
Black tar of forgotten men rotting in the moonless swamp
Hatred stewing in the heat and boiling in the cold—
Where bodies are collected and Hell keeps count.
The devil’s son toys viciously with all who wander here.
A wretched need craving, shrouded in vicious play.
Haunted tales tell and re-tell his deadly mischief.

SHITE:
If you see a light in the distance

JI:
If you see a light in the distance, do not follow it.
He will lead you to your death in the blackened swamp.
Twelve graves shine with fresh darkness, the old house trembles.
Counting one and two children with no shoes
And three, four are hanging on the door.
Counting thick—come lay upon sticks.
Counting more (and more to come) ’til none are left
To dig and delve and the last one, the last one is gone.

SHITE:
The demon born in this swamp mutilates his prey.

JI:
Thrown away by his mother’s hand, he laughs at your fear.
Now hiding his shame, feeding his terrible hunger.
The youngest child given to the devil.
Too many mouths to feed, too many children.
Screaming at the hungry night, forsaken by God.

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About Theatre Nohgaku

Noh, one of the oldest continuing stage arts, combines highly stylized dance, chant, music, mask and costume with intense inner concentration and physical discipline, creating a uniquely powerful theatrical experience. Theatre Nohgaku’s mission is to share noh’s beauty and power with English speaking audiences and performers. We have found that this traditional form retains its dramatic effectiveness in languages other than Japanese. We believe noh techniques hold a powerful means of expression in the context of contemporary English language theatre.
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