Saturday, February 2, 2013

The thermometer reads three degrees lower than all the other thermometers in the area and reminds me that what I take to be objective truth is really just a handful of statements I fashion inside my head when the light on the patio has burned out and shapes consequently appear to move in the darkness like cunning beasts or Myrmidons. Like fairy tale creatures risen from the mud and bent on destruction or at least the snarling of downtown traffic. We routinely broadcast to the other side of the street and the other side of the world our deepest insecurities without realizing it – our beliefs in the redemptive power of failure and dark ale, our tedious recitations of the names of those who have influenced us in some way, whether by angling for exotic species beneath the waves or exploring the limits of despair in treatises with titles four lines long and heavy with Latinate constructions. Eulalie sends away for the x-ray glasses advertised in the back of a magazine long since out of print but still sitting on the shelf of a place we find by the canal, a shop that also carries fossil trilobites in plastic boxes and umbrellas with the images of starlets on them, though some of these look as if they were famous only in Yugoslavia, say, where they may have started on the stage and moved to the silent pictures shot in that country on cameras as big as ostriches. Second-rate contraptions that produced grainy images and slowed them down so that even a waterfall seemed to be changing its mind halfway through its descent and the lips on a human face when they moved did so in jerks and spasms that caused onlookers to wince, to promise themselves never again to take their singing voices for granted. When they arrive I see what I had suspected from the beginning – little more than bones and viscera painted on the inside of the lenses, but Eulalie straps them on after dinner and wanders out into the street or wilderness and returns two days later in a state akin to a trance but without the awkward shuffling and the monotone response to questions naturally put to one in that state. Like “Where have you been?” and “Why are there rose pedals on your socks and in your hair?” When I wake in the middle of the night she is looking at me with the glasses affixed, head tilted, mouth agape and when I press her for what she sees, what deep blank part of me has revealed itself through the mechanism of the lenses, her horror is such that she seems to have lost the power of speech altogether. After a moment when I too am frozen in indecision or fear or something halfway between them, I reach for her and we make love in a mechanical and unrewarding fashion, and the next morning we wake to find small lizards hanging on the screens on the windows and the back door, two or three dozen of them by my count twitching and working their throats spastically up and down in the direct sunlight.         

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