Saturday, February 23, 2013

The ice contains impurities which taste, once they find your tongue, a little like the desire you feel to end a conversation before it has begun. The impatience that settles on the lowest portions of the spine (those that look as though they more properly belong to earlier forms of life like reptiles or bony fishes) and starts to gnaw, starts to radiate outward in all directions. Eulalie props her bare feet up on the back of the chair in front of her and draws pictures in the air with her finger as she is speaking, as she is narrating and borrowing from sources as yet unidentified but not too difficult to trace, I imagine, if you start with the master European gardeners of the sixteenth century and their complicated allegories, their attempts to reduce everything to commentary on seeds and whatever is inside seeds that allows them to germinate. I imagine a substance very like the substance created at the moment the cosmos was first ignited, in minute quantities, of course, and degenerated some from its original purity due to the passing of so many years. But why not suppose something of that initial perfection has come down to us unaltered? Eulalie asks, her toes curling provocatively just inches from my face which is itself, no doubt, a mere simulacra of the one she remembers  due to strained moments like this between us stacking up one on top of another, accumulating over the years much as sediment is said to set down layers atop earlier layers in an almost infinite pattern, and when you want to figure out which is the oldest and which the newest and why that difference is significant, you can head to the foothills with a shovel in your hands and a canteen half-full of gin and, who knows? maybe you’ll stumble upon the walls of a previously undiscovered edifice while you’re down there in the sand and mud, a fortress or smokehouse with pottery shards scattered about what would have been the grounds and designs on the side of it like enormous birds. At this time of night, which is to say the deepest portion, the time when time is no longer a tangible presence, Eulalie’s breath seems to turn red and when I wave the remnants of what she exhales toward my nostrils, there is a moment when I feel as if I have been here before and have experienced everything previously exactly as it is unfolding and I can predict with startling ease what Eulalie is going to say and do next. It involves a copper and onyx ring she finds on the floor that does not belong to either one of us and a consequent jealous rage like that one reads about in the Saga of the People of Vatnsdal  when one still thinks it a work of fiction rather history of the first magnitude. Fortunately, the spell dissipates before the bloody vision can come to pass and I am left with little more than a vague disappointment like that you get when you realize your arms are never going to transform themselves into wings. They are never going to become mechanical devices that allow you to climb onto the breeze and pass the day moving from one point to the next unobserved and far away but for your shadow which haunts the courtyards and balconies below and gets the people it passes, if not to look up and point, at least to consider doing so until they realize they will  probably be blinded momentarily by the sun which created the shadow to begin with. And so they continue to look anywhere but above their own heads. Mostly, you’ll notice, they look down at their feet on the tile or the grass where the lizards scurry about between dandelion heads and the beads of dew holding to the individual blades of grass glisten and wobble with the movement; they hang precariously just this side of collapse. And then they collapse.

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