20 de abril de 2012

Scene 54

(foto: carlos silva)


Scene 54

Every act of love is a different one. Every act is at variance.

Now, finally, everything’s ready. The clapperboard is sounded for scene 54, take 1: that which is not a swimming pool (“And earlier this month, the government solicited applications from investors interested in buying pools of foreclosed properties held by Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac and the Federal Housing Administration”); that which is not a horse’s villa, a horse’s stable, a horse’s house, but, instead, a horse’s hours (“en que la yerba / crece en la memoria”); that which is not a temple to Sifrhippus, the first horse, eating leaves in the Paleocene-Eocene thermal maximum and getting better smaller, slowly. What we see is a museum for a roof. Or is the roof the crowning fancy, a song in fact, to the eccentric endurance of the two-by-four? What’s on the other side of its leaning, what is its inclination? Just another torment of discipline. Weathered boards buttressed with spars, all invited to sing for their supper. A few would love dearly to float on a river and become driftwood. The roof intact—tiles of our discontent, or, rather, our expedience, on a foundation that is surmounted by pedestals, base enactments of justice. The horse who wasn’t there knows that the gesture of wonder—the gaping mouth of Socrates or the talking mouth of a horse—will make a difference to the world’s turning, will tell the time.

“Even now the earth is still shaking.”

On the other hand, I would like to stay here, rapping on this musealization of wood, wrapped up in the humble and the blessed, rapt at the impossibly picturesque. (Why are we so keen on beauty when its pleasures are an imprudence of agony?) Who are you kidding with this stage of love, of reading between the boards in a dog’s club turned monument to the elements I too would like to acknowledge and reckon with? But I never imagined that which is plain to see as we arrive at the scene in black and white. If we don’t build a lighthouse for lack of an ocean, it’s only natural on land, near the ivy and the wood, when the light and shadow of an indigent tower inscribe an embellished signature of alarms—far from domestic but possessed of inherent qualities that recall dwellings. To the crime, meme memory, a history that “(aquí, ahora) no tiene sentido, no tiene destino.” We might learn from Kafka—you and I can pass through the door and see what comes after, above and beneath the stone foundations, the vestibular hallowed in the light of day, air fresh where the dogs did bark. So appearing to our unerring . . .

Can you find the . . . frog prince? The squirrel family? The well of loneliness? The myth of a memory that remains obscure? Can you see the harsh etiquette of a levitating number? Have you read Maimonides’ Guide for the Perplexed? Was this gaptoothed semblance of a door the threshold to the four walls around a wellspring or, equally precious, a school or house of worship for slaves and the children of slaves—all that which is exalted to remain hidden? I will climb over this fence, at last, and, like Fontaine from cell no. 107 at Fort Montluc where he dismantled the door board by board, escape! War is on the other side of us.

The light is what exists.

A coup de foudre. When there is no love at first sight, we recall the elements (“to Upanishadic thinkers the real meaning of the horse-sacrifice [aśvamedha] was gained through a realization of the identity of the parts of this sacrifice and the universe”). Hierarchies are ugly—they are ancient. But so is freedom. Why call it a ruin? It’s too gapingly recent a kind of distress for that. We call it a moving picture (in slow motion). But why not call it a building? It may be right to call it useful. If we think of this teetering yet elegantly soulful shack as an address for art, that’s because of its beauty and bias, its slanting toward, which in its mirroring animal desire (requited via the architectural polis in the Dancing Building of Prague) is like something oracular, but without words—what we might call spectacular. Beyond, behind the antechamber following mito e historia is the temple of canopy that doesn’t need an entitled tiled roof: a place of wedding (“what therefore God did join together let no man put asunder”).

Who would say that pleasure is not useful?

I ask myself whether I’ve been making a monument out of a wreck. Where the wood shifts there might be fire. But I imagined the future in light of the past. This is an edifice without a fate, not a derelict cabin on broken legs of stone (two vast and trunkless legs of stone / stand in the desert). This is the voice of a well of loneliness, temple to our constitutional, monument to wind, rain, and sun. And if I am right, I am wrong. And if I am wrong . . .

There was an old woman
Who lived in a shoe.
She had so many children
She didn’t know what to do.

These boards, domestic and foreign, raise the roof. I can’t own anything. Animal high, animal low: “A horse is a horse, of course, of course. And no one can talk to a horse, of course, unless, of course, the horse, of course, is the famous Mr. Ed!” If we debase the horse, we do more than relegate ourselves to ghosts, restless in an eternity walking the planks. Here is a record of escape. I want to look away. I can’t look. I have to look. I have to see that which is right in front of me. Facsimile of memory over time in grace is the space of the place.

It is strangely not uncommon that the place in which I could not take refuge makes for an image in which I must take refuge.

As if I knew that this shed insistently tilting westward (or is it veering in another direction?) was no defense for a well of springwater but the stall of a horse in particular. But I know only that this place is of the horse. “According to one story that has been passed down, God created the Arabian horse from a handful of wind. In Arab tradition, mares are more prized than stallions, and many poets have sung the praises of these ‘daughters of the wind.’”

When the names are random, arbitrary, contingent for the boards of the walls of the house, for the horse, which might have been sheltered inside it when it wasn’t the guardhouse of a spring, when, once upon a time, the door fit and was proper, under the charm, say, of the horseshoe, there can be a sill—a plank even—where life begins: the doorpost of a mystery. Why is this roof still standing (what is the meaning of this)? Sticks and stones may break my bones, but names will never hurt me.

Where and when will I come to, get away from mourning, not lean over you? I try and fail to toss these old square-toed shoes, these Prada boots with holes, smaller, relatively, than the gaps on the door of the tilting structure, which manifest pride, ignorance, poverty, mystery, obscenity, or curiosity—these boots are made of leather and no longer fitting. I wear them to honor loss of life, and death is the surplus value of which they remind me. Worse, an indulgence in studied imperfection. And I am sorry (sullied) because I no longer feel comfortable in them a lot of the time. And I become slightly perverse and wear them almost all the time so the holes will get bigger faster, and, finally, I hope, it will begin to seem a thing of nature that they can’t be worn through—can’t wear out soon enough, can be useless. Susie, little Susie, now what is the news? The geese are going barefoot ’cause they’ve got no shoes. Perhaps I will feel strong or right enough to tell myself, without ritual or revelation or natural disaster: I will quake in my boots. What does a name matter, after all, to these: hipparions, Iberian horses, mustangs, dogs, tarpans, elk-dogs.

Even now the earth is still shaking, said a survivor of the tsunami, his town a beach of grasses where only the biggest houses are shells, shadows of their former selves.

“I do believe that, like an animal, I can call upon the powers that be,” I wrote in a letter I never sent you. How do we extricate ourselves from the objective correlative of mourning except by renouncing irremediable weirdly historical guilt—or is it mythological?—tending toward the ivy wall below the chain-link fence in the West, north of the forest, ourselves humble, as it were, within the breath, the scope, of life? Daughters of the wind remind us we can fly. This boarding house aslant, ungrounded, is that which exchanges the elements, without a horse, without a source, and rebukes us so we can forget to remember.

susan pensak

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