You are on page 1of 59

Thedisastertakescareofeverything.

MauriceBlanchot

ii

Table of Contents
CASTOFCHARACTERS..1 ACTI..2 sottovoce..3 Acoldofgreen,acalmofapple.4 Winter5 Serafina,shivering.6 pianoforte8 ACTII..9 Serafina,playingpiano.10 RefugeeCamp.11 AtPonary12 ACTIII...13 IntheHouseatNuostolis..14 InSaltGrass,..15 Serafinawouldhaveadmiredanemptyshell,reflectinglight...16 Ihavewanderedwithyoutothiscloister.17 IamhappeningtoyouandIamoftheseasons..18 allwevedone..19 ThatDay21 tospeakofthedisaster.22 ACTIV.28 sayingnothingofthedisaster..29 Serafina,whenyoustill.30 theseunreadylaments..31 TheWedding.32 IntheHouseatErntefest.33 Serafina,Imeanttohearyou34 IntheHouseatSchadenfreude35 moth36 ACTV..37 Serafina,atdawn38 BloodHorse39 OldWoman,Weaving.41 IntheHouseatGruenwald.42 Blackbirds.43 Sweetgum.44 HangingatBuna45 IntheHouseatMuselmnner46 Serafina,yourunrungheart.47 TheSickBed.48 ACTVI..49 Revelus50 Homicide51 IntheHouseoftheDolls52 animpossibilityofgaze53 Numbers.54 Epilogue..56

iii

Cast of Characters
FATHER,allthatsleft...............................................................Tenor SERAFINA.........................................................................Silent. astarhasfallenfromtheEastandalsofromtheWest.Itappearsinthemorningaszealous. Tothosewholookeduponitfromonedirection,itappearedtoberising.Otherscouldonly agreethatithadfallen.TotheScientists,theorbwasaplanet,reachingtheendofitsdays, collapsing upon itself creating a black hole that trumpeted the end of the world. The Scientistshavealwaysknownthecertaintyofourshareddisaster.Therewerethosewhosaw itonlywiththeireyes.Andthosewhosawitasthroughaveil.Andthosewhoremovedthe veiltofindtheireyesconsumed.Serafinawasoneofthese.TotheArchitects,itwastheideal structure so that all structures built afterward would be ideal. To the Scholars and to the Doctors,itwasknowledgeandunbridledunderstanding,atgreatcost.TotheRulers,itwas anAffirmationoftheirwilltopower.TotheSagesandSeers,thestarwassecret.ToFather, theflamingmeteorwasseraphimwithsixflamingwings,bearingthenewsofdeath,somein speechandsomeinsilence.ThestarcauterizedSerafinasvoice,andburnedherupasitfell. NELAIM...........................................................................Bass acknowledgesnooneandisacknowledgedbynoone.Thedisasterisalwaysbeforeusand weareforeverrunningafterit.Weareontheedgeofit.Inperpetuity. SALOME........................................................................Soprano womanwhocametothecross,findingitfull.Andawomanwhocametothetomb,findingit empty.WomanwhodancedsoastoseducetheKingandwasgivenadisembodiedhead. UP......................................................................Mezzosoprano asaman,wehavecalledhimTiwaz,andcalledhimself/herselfShiwhenamongthoseliving in the East. The Greeks have named her Mnemosyne and also Lethe. And the Germanic peopleshavenotcalledherSpiegel.Onlyafterreparationsweremadedidtheylookherin the face. But once, two German girls, in a theater, laughing. The Italians have called her Storia and have driven her from that country. The Polish cannot speak of her without weeping.ThereisnowordforherinHebrewthatisnotananathema,becausesilencecan no longer exist in that language. In American English, we name only the current through whichUpglidesinherbirchbarkcanoe.Stackingtheriverbankssohighthatnothingofthe scenery can be observed through hill and the canebrake. Call her Mississippi, Tennessee, Hudson,East.CallherOhio. CALANTHE..............................................................AllOtherVoices

Act I
Anunpeopledstage,madeofunremarkabledarkwoodturningblondeonlywhenthesoftyellowglow ofadimspotlightilluminatesit.CALANTHEisstandingdeadcenter,nervous.Breathstammersfrom thehalfopenmouth,themembranedry.Allmoisture,nowinthehands. CALANTHE: Astoryoncefellintotheworld. Iknowyouareaskingyourselfnow:whyshouldIbetheonetotellit?Letmedefendmyself. Thisstorycameasallotherthingshavecome:atnight,murderedinshadows.Indrought,whenso many have died for want of water. It came to me like the calamity, unavoidable. It flowed in the currentoftime.Itcavernedthefaceoftheoldwoman,bringingtomeascrollclutchedinhervellum hands.Inthemorning,Iatethelowhangingfruitfromitsbranchesandintheafternoon,Iburiedits seedinthegarden.AndItendedthevineyard. When I went down from the house, I clothed myself in its weave, even in the heat, when I would ratherbenakedwithinacoollabyrinthofwalls.Ifoundithiddenintheartichokesbracts,disguised asapoisoncurledinsidetheseedoftheapple.Thegreengrocerknewofit,buthedidnotknowits name,orhowithadcometogrowamongus. It was drawn up from the well, its flavor in the water was the flavor of soft moss, the taste of limestoneinancientcitadels.Thosewhodrankofitfortoolongatimeforgoteverything.Ihaveseen legionsofmendrunkofitandstillwanting.Itarrivedwithaflockofgeesehiddeninthesoundof theirthunderouswings.Ittraveledherebytrain,clothedinadistraughtwoolencoatandcarryinga batteredleathersuitcase.Ithadwandering,holloweyes. Isatatthetablewithit,pouringwinefromthedecanter.Iplacedthecheeseandolives,theplums beforeit.Whenitwassatisfied,itopeneditsmouthandbegantospeakofitself.Whenitbeggedme writethehistoryofit,Iwrote. WhatelsecouldIdo?

sottovoce

Ashadow,thelengthofquiet sottovoceonRavensbrck gashofdawn halvedshellofsky boneash brutalgrooves halfshellofamother'sloudarm tolullachild ahammeringofbullets somanybirchtrees nakedonadeadhill

Acoldofgreen,acalmofapple atreeinafeelingofroughtime passingslowlyuntilwind acleanofwhite,agleamoflavender anameforgotten:but peoplesittingonalawn insummerthoughadreadofwinterapproaching abrickispainful,thoughsmoothandcool.Allthesame, tolaymyheadagainstitisnotmurder. Theblackberries? andwiththem, thebirdsgo.

Gone.

Winter Yesterdayevening, theblackbarkedmagnolia laiddownitstonguepinkblooms, wearyofoutshiningthesweetgum.

Serafina,shivering Togettoher, whiteofwisteria, Aday, rowingbywithoutweeping. Blind,thestars andsoundless,thevine unwindingintheafternoon awayfromunbendingevening inwind thechimesofpetalsandleaves: twovoices insilentagitation.

Togettoher, whiteinmysteries, rovethebarricade, thebarbedandweepingstars. Afathersearhears blindly. Sheunknowsthestones, unknowsthewater. Here, breathshallowing toothedvoices ofextremeduration.

pianoforte Musichastakenthetemple. Ablightsong forourwintering.Sound woventhroughourcaptors'fingers throughtheircuneiformbones fromthishymnalofourbodies ameasureisperformed. Ourlikeness:tothestringstricken achordcorded Fromwheredoesmusicspring? Fromwhatupwelling? Violencehasmusickedus. Ourtremolomusicstheworld. Fromlong,lownotes,anisolatedtone inviolateandsustained: Abladeofgrass greeninginRavensbrck

ACT II
RevealwhatSalomehasseen.

SALOME:(beforethebrickwall,intactandseeminglyimmovable.Thewayshestandswithherear slightlyelevated,herheadangledtohershoulder,hereyessquintingasthoughshecanseesoundlike apetaldriftingdown,hereyebrowsknittedbeneaththelinesonherforeheadjaggedlikeanuneven hemyoucanseesheislisteningtosomethingfaroff.Dreamily): Whowouldhaveexpectedsuchmusic? AsifmusiccouldstillbemadeinKovno Stupelistheviolinsoloist andS.Hofmeklerconducts Butnosafepassage,asafogislullingin. UP:achildofwhomweknownothingisimmediately tornfromlanguage. FATHER(coveringhisears):Oh!Oh! SALOME(dancing):Iremembermusicbarrelingthroughthetreesandinmymemorythereisalways snow!Thegreyimagesarebittercold,yetImusthaveseengreenbecausethereweretrees.Likea harrowedoldman,summertoppledintoautumninonlyamoment.Allgreenleavesturnedscarlet andfell. UP:achildofwhomweknowlittleis pressedintomyarms. CALANTHE(toUp,asearingindictment):Youdidnteventrytosaveher! UP:WhatcouldIdo?HandlessasIgotowarddawn? NELAIM(creepingontothestage):TherearethosewhosayIpushedSerafinaintoUpsarmswhen themenlikeevergreenscamewiththeirbulletsandtheirheavystonesandtheirwheels.ButIwould notcracktheeggtoreleasethechick,oropenthechrysalistofreethebutterfly,orseverthedrupe toexcisethepit. UP:achildofwhomweknowsomethingis thissilentpassive thisdeadeternity

Serafina,playingpiano Serafinasitsdowntothepiano. Thecurlednotesflock fromherfingers andoutthehalfopenwindow. Underherpalm, thewhitebirdflies beneathitsownshadow. . SerafinasaysFather Thisalsoismusic. Silencewings throughourrooms beatsandbeatsnow thatmusichasfled fromourhouse.

10

RefugeeCamp Languageunsettlesus, turnsusintogeesethatneverhomeforverylong. somanyrowsofwhitewings somanydissonantvoices Theyhavenamedus havepaintedus,andvoicedusaloud. Theyhaveturnedourlanguage intoaninstrumentforunearthing. Theyhaveplantedthisgardenbefore. Butweknowitssecret,weburiedit,andkeepit. Yesterday,theswallowfoundanabandonednest. Today,itincubatesitsyoung. andtomorrow,somanywings willbeloosedupontheworld.

11

AtPonary under ajawboneofbirch inabellrung,bankruptforest aboarrootingindeadwood unearths awhitetooth ajawboneofbone belowtheseedingbranch unbridled thereisaburning intheEast,sixwingsarelit andplummettowardthenightingWest. undead wego,embattledandmigrant onlyourbreathremaining nosongslauncheduponit

12

Act III
(Fatherrefusesnowtospeak.) NELAIM(toSalome): Hismouthabloodygash wordscannowonlybe violent ourlanguage, oh, sever our context has been ed. SALOME: Icantunderstandyourwords,Nelaim,butIknowyourlanguage.Whenwelostourown tongue,wespokewithyours. UP(holdingastone,smoothingafingeroveritssurface): Father,lookdeeper.Nelaimknowsthehistoryofthisstone.Nelaimtellsitallthetime. (Fathercloseshiseyes.)

13

IntheHouseatNuostolis ItisFatherwhowalksherenow,amongthetrees,ashedidonce,beforehewasold.Beforethecity ofVilnawasbledtodeath.BeforethoseinVilnaweptbecauseBialystokwasspared.Fathercannot help but see the house as it was, as he remembered it. It has never existed the way Father remembersit:whichanyoldmanwhorememberscantellyou. Then, the House at Nuostolis did not huddle upon theground as houses did during the war; when they shrank from the iron eagles that screeched overhead and the pachyderms that spit fire from their trunks and wore steelarmor, andchiseled rutsupon thecountryroads with their pickaxes of deafeningsound. Thehouseworeawidemouthedgrinwhenthedoorwasopen,itsbroad,frankgazelookingoutover aflatplainthatmusthavebeengreenwithgrassonce.Surroundedbytrees.AllthislandwasFathers andhisfathersandtheykeptitandtilledit. ThelandyieldedthecedarfromwhichtheHouseatNuostoliswasbuiltandFatherwhitewashedit when he was only a boy. He was not Father then. His daughter was only a dream the future kept dreaminguntilitawoketofindheralsowaking.FathernamedherSerafina,beforeheknewofthe sixflamingstars. ThehouseatNuostoliswascoquettishinthewintertime,hidingherselfunderashawlofthicksnow whereonlyatuftofherhairwasvisiblelikechimneysmoke.Inthecold,agoldenlightwaltzedfrom the icegemmed windows and pooled its yellow gown upon the ground. In spring, the house was naked,admiringherfigureinthedropsofmorningdewbejewelingtheRueleaves.Inside,onlybread wasleaveningintheoven. Imperceptibly, the winter began to appropriate the house. Curling like a cat clothed in great white fur,thechillhuddledinthecornersoftheattic,farawayfromthewoodburningstove.Itpadswith light feet on the tops of the trunks where inside nest mementos of another home from which the grandfatherscame.FromtheDiaspora,wehavecometoNuostolis. AdissemblinggnaweditswayintothelathesandlatticesoftheHouseatNuostolis.Everystructure knowsitsdestiny.Thisiswhysadnesslurksbehindthedarkenedwindowsofallourhouses.When Fatherlooksintothisvacancy,heseestheknowledgeofruinandheacknowledgesit. ItwasthenthatthehousebegantocallitselfNustojimas. IntheHouseatNustojimas,windghoststhroughtheroomsunseen,longtalonsofcoldpryingoffthe shutters,slitheringbeneaththecracksofdoorsandthejoistsofrooves.Itstenorsuturedthroughthe storiedthroatsofthehalls.Theroomsknowthereareghosts.Butthegustbelievestheroomsarethe ghosts.Thetwodonotunderstandoneanother. Thiswindoncehadadreamofrooms,buttheroomsdreamedtheywerebonesburiedunderPonary. IntheHouseatNustojimas,collapseisunderway.Fatherseestherearetworoads.Onerisesupa steephillandintothetallthighsoftrees.Itislaidwithbloodredcobblestones.Theotherleadsaway fromthehouseandallhisancestry:fromtheblackhairofhismotherclutchedinhisfathersmassive andimpotenthands.

14

InSaltGrass, agreennessinthemarsh. Theloudnessisweightinsideashell. Surfacegroovestwinthetrumpet oftheear,outsidethis: Theroundpebble ofabirdsinsistentchirping. Aninterruptionofroots. Theheronsunbranchthemselves. Skydrops kingfisher asifitwasstone. Lakesurfaces, andmirrors. Groovesofdisturbance resemblethetrumpet oftheearoutsidethis: Railscalloneanother,eachclap abone.Thisribcageofsound.Herheart, too, beatsagainstbone. Rottingjointsandtimbers: Carcassofstructure,builtforfarseeing. Gratefulforcollapse,acicadairidesces. Treessuggestdistancewhenoneisthisfarfromhome. Afrustrationofwings. Whichwaythebirdflew,

15

Serafinawouldhaveadmiredanemptyshell,reflectinglight


Thetidehasalreadycometous whereseabirdssettle onescoopshisheadbeneathhiswing shiversdown uponthesunbleachedrocks thecoolwind'slight,light harrowingallthathasfilled bereftandemptied arustleofwings andyourmotherofpearl triedbythewaves andmadesmooth

16

Ihavewanderedwithyoutothiscloister ofonlyfemalevoices emptyasuncurledpalms whennoalmshavebeengiven Ihavesoughtyouintheonslaught ofruddyfallenleaves throughbleedingpennonsofthevine astainofharpsongaboutthem ourfingerswithoutsyntax ourthighswithoutsound wanthavingtakentheflesh thatwasbetweenthem

17

Iamhappeningtoyou Igo withtwogypsychildren,sewntogether Iamenclosures andIamgallowing andIamimpotent amongthevacuousdead Iamhappeningtoyou,lachrymal andhapless nowhollow Butletusbecheerful! Still, Thisisnotmyfault. Iamyou Thenakedwomenare butIdidnotpluckthem anddidnotspreadthem Butwhentheyfell, Isawit Toread Tellme. Yesterday,therainfell.

andIamoftheseasons andIreturn twintreesIneitherwaterednorcutdown Iamalso theladysfingersaround theflowerstems Iamjoyous Iamgatheredinavasebeforethefourpanedwindow awedbytheravenpecking butthereareotherskeletonsinthiswar firebombedstructuresofutility, asbirdsbones. agreenleafuncurlsanddrinks aprideofdandelions basksonthehillside thecloversummonsbees andhoneyismade happeningtoyourselves. whiteorchids upinhandfuls onthewater. theywerenumerousasleaves Irecordeditintheloam. thishistoryrequiresaspade. Tomorrowisforplanting.

18

allwevedone thecrocus petalsunfastening bleedingfromsoil hook&eye


aboveburiedroot allwevedone windaching throughbayonettrees.

19

mockingbird

unhinges

fromtreebranch

fractalscoming

unglued

itsfallingtime

andtheboy

whorakestheleaves

issleeping

inthehaywain.

20

ThatDay Thatdayitwasraining. Spearheadsfellonrecedingwhitesnow, moonlight,agreatsilversickle, slicedthrough darkness Thesapling shuddering atwintersdisrobing. So,ofyou,cherrytree, Itellitlikethis: windcoercesyourheaddown Relent. Coldfingersseize everyopening, pryoutthenewwhiteblossom. Bendthetwigs and bend. Iwatchyougrow. Bonetall, barkthick oakeningmoreeachwinter. Thisearliestmemory stillrootedintheseed beneathyourspreading. this youryouth theawfulmomentofyourhappening

21

tospeakofthedisaster perceivethelividpeony saidintoeloquentterrain itsindigoassertions amongsooftengreens goldenpoppiesamonggrayingstones somanyareourpetaledbones andzinniasmagentawounds nowleanthetrees,ashenanduncertain afervorofcrows inanatrocity

ofbrownleaves

22

nowgleamsthornedsunlight on asphalt mosaicofleaves elatedandornamental blackpigeon,bloodraweye bloodblossomsrosettes onthedyingmanschest thegeranium here,awaspbusily uswaitingforthecops abuilding,nonchalant somedistancefromthecurb, carspassing.nooneinthewindows. hisabdomenaclovenfig, breathshummingthrough ourfingerslikeasieve.

23

whenwewakenowhereneartheocean wemoveandmove,unshelledandtidal swelltothecliffface falltotheseabottom islandishandwoeful wecrashandcrash suckingthesand fromunderourownfeet

24

themountain,disorientedthen, speaks outagainst. thetrees mowndown thecavern trumpetsash thechasm widens thestumps gauntshadows behindthehuddledlarkspur hauntus.

25

oneday,afterthewarhadended, askeletalwoman beggedustofeedherand tofeedherchild andwetookthebreadandmilk andwegaveherjustenough becausewecouldsee herownmilkwasdriedup weputthecrusttoherlips shriveledseedpodsinthebranches ofherblackhair andsheheldthemilktothemouth ofthebabe inherarms, itseyesdark asunlitlanterns. nowthechasm, widening thetrees gaunt the huddledlarkspur thewhite and mottledarms shetotteredafewfeet, herjointsunhinged,and fell.

26

havingdoneourwork havingeatenourdinner havingthoughtofeachother withouttouching, weliedowntosleep inourseparatehouses astheevening, impoverished, unravels.

27

Artilleryfireandaburntmusic.Anowlscreeches.Thewallisshaken.Holesbegintoappear. Behindthebrickwall,Salomestopsdancing.Herwhitefingerspeerthroughtheshattered spaces.Silence. SALOME: HowmanytimeshaveIdied? Somanyboneslikebircheslying prostrateinausterebunks paperyrindssloughedfromthetrunks NELAIM: Quickstepped, Ihavehauntedtherails heardthesongsofBethel butdidnotsingtheirfreight Adifferentstrainthansung whenacrust ofbreadwasthrownamong thehungryatLudwigslust SALOME(ignoringNelaim): Ourgravemisfortune! Oureveningbegan withjustonestar andnow CALANTHE: Sostrangetosee suchaprofusion ofgreenleaves intheforest ofsomuchsuffering! IoncereadaboutagirlnamedSerafinawhoatethefirstspringbladeofgrass afterabitterwinter.Ihaveforgottenmostofit. SALOME(toCalanthe,fullyvisiblenowthroughaholeinthewall): Whereshe,likeawillowedtree,castingnoshadow

ACT IV

28

sayingnothingofthedisaster Whenthereisawoman perhapsinaredcoat movingalongMarket inpossessionofabasket thenthereareherhands havingpluckedblossoms grippingtheunravelinghandle coiledofdeadgrasses here,murderhasbeencommitted unknowing allforimpermanentbeauty andasucculencebeforeherwindow whenshebendstoliftawhitedove ofpapercollapsedatherfeet aflowerfallsfromthebasket dispetaledwithoutsound andhowweneverspoke ofthisdisaster

29

Serafina,whenyoustill havenotappeared ashadowinthegleamingdoorway Igotothemarketatmidday toweave amongthebinsoffruit apricotsandmottledpears sooftenintheshapeofthewomen whoappraisethem Thegrocercountsthem thehousewivesthumpthemforripeness thementhumpthewomenforripeness licktheredlippedapplesofthem allofthemenandthewomen wearingyellowstars

30

theseunreadylaments Thatwewerenotopened tobelaudedwithseed sowewouldnolonger flourishintoswellingpsalm orwildstrawberrythen bledfromthehillsides divideus,devil,fromtheriver floatinguponitsmirror theleaves, anguishedfromthetrees soonafter, ourbrancheswereburned unripefruitsgathered byvulgarhands

31

TheWedding Thecedarsrootsunburied thetrunksplit thechrysaliscutdown nothingnowistransformed blossoms nothingemerges nothingremains branch crushedbeneath thefeetofthebride andgroomsunion amarriage thatdefiles ourblood wehavebeensevered fromourownwives andspreadbefore thealtarofourenemies. theunfurled

throttled fromthe

32

IntheHouseatErntefest Here,herbsarebruisedinthemortar,groundbythepestletofinepowder.Theheadsof wheatareheavy.Inthefields,stalksmarchingoldenrowstothethreshingfloor.Thepear treeslifttheiragedhands,fulloffruit.Thepondsleapwithfish. Thegrapeshangheavyonthevine.Theappleopensitshearttotheearth,itskernelburied forsafekeeping.Thefigripens.Amotherswombflowers.TheHouseatErntefestismadeof allthingsthatarethreshed. Fatherneitherharvestedthewheat,norunburdenedthevine.Butwatchedinsilenceasthe Harvesterswovethroughthefields,cloudsofchaffabovetheminanochreheat.Silentalso, asthegrapeswerepluckedandpressed.Nopartiswasted.Thewheatstalksaremadeinto bedding,thegrapeseedsgroundintooil. FatherrememberstheblackcloudapproachingfromtheEast,bringingastormlastingfor days.Thepondswereeyesredrimmedwithclay.Thetreesboweddown.Thesunfled.The HouseatErntefest,shookwithrage:thefieldsflattened,thebreadunleavenedandthevine bereft.

33

Serafina,Imeanttohearyou asifawaterfall or asifacurrent or asifeachdroplet fell,continuingtofall did theappleredden didtheleavesveinsbecome silent asifafterlightning and justbeforethunder anddiditmakeasound as itfellorwerethere loudvoicesscreaming, little bloodpinpricked on yourcheekwhere myhandpercussed but didthetipofyour indexfingertouchacoolness in thehothornedivoryonce be longingtoanelephants uncommontusk?orwasit my impassivefaceIremembersowell? Wasit? Well,

34

IntheHouseatSchadenfreude Father remembers how, once, when he was a boy, hunting elk, its bugling screamed through the forest. His own fathers eyes sparked with excitement like struck flint as he shouldered his rifle. The hunters footsteps thrummed through the filigree of dull brown leavesontheforestfloorastheychasedthatscream. Years later, he would remember the redbrown blood gurgling down the animals velvet sides,notforitscolororitswarmth,butforitssmell:likebiletunnelingundertherootsof thecedarsatPonary. Too young, Father, laughing all the way to the House at Schadenfreude, told the story of howthebeastwithitsmagnificenthooveshadstruckoutoneway,thenanother,itsantlers tanglinginthelowhangingbranchesofthelindentrees,itsgracefulbodyshiftingdirection likearedfoamed,crestingwave.Untiltheshotthatbroughthimdown. IntheHouseatSchadenfreude,theplanksthatformthewallshavebeenstolenfromother immigrants houses. At night, thieves from the ghetto pry the beams away from the crumbling foundations of their brothers houses. So many structures in the city are collapsing.Cartsdragtheclapboardsdowntheruttedstreetsinthecoverofdarkness. Itwillnotbelongbeforethethievescomeagain,dismantlingtheHouseatSchadenfreude wehavebuiltofstolentimber. Whenwehavebeendraggedfromthehouseandhaveleftonthelorries,whenwecanno longerrecallasweetmusicriffedthroughthegoldenleaves,orheartheelksscreamorfeel itswarmfleshjuststartingtocool,whenIamtakingyourcrustofbreadandrunningfrom youroutstretchedarms,whenweareunnaturalandunclothedandunfed, andinsideus. wewillcarrythebonesofthishousewithus

35

moth urgent myknucklefellagainst herbirdlikebody yieldingasdust plummeted riffeddown mahogany onmahogany. whereisthewhitemothofyourhip?

36

ACT V
Father stands before a brick wall, once solid, now blasted with holes. He looks into the darknessofoneofthelacunas,andasmall,whitelightstartstoflutterthroughtheblackness likeamothswingsflickerwhenfirelightshattersuponthem.Upflowsthroughoneofthe largerholesandreachesoutforFather,whoturnsaway. Father:Serafina,intime wehavecometotheriver hairlockcurlingaroundthebend underthecloudlesscathedral Upswhitegownfluttersbehindher,somanygreatbirdwings.Whenheseesher,will Fatherthinkoftherefugeecamp?Orwillheimagineoleander?Upreachesouttohim,but hehastenspasther,avertinghiseyes. Up(exasperated):Hewillnotlook.Orifhelooks,hewillnotsee. Father: askythatbendstoitsknees andhandsthatscoopcoolwatertoyourwhiteface sunlightachesuponyourcrown asyouweaveamongthebulrushes Up(interruptingFather):Father,mybonesarestonesandthestonesareherbones.Look beneath. Father(speakingloudlyovertheflowofUpsripplingvoice): stalksdauntedbytheweight andleanofyourthighs thepivotofyourhipsandyourpalm grazingtheirheads asthoughyougivegoldtothepeople Upshakesherheadandretreatsbackintotheholeinthebrickwall. Father: Andsowhenyoukneel togatherthebrittle,bare clamshell thedayhusheswhenyousay youhaveboth givenallthatyoucan

37

Serafina,atdawn Iwoke,asusual, You,nowhereinourhouse. Barefootintothekitchen, fruitsofteningonthetable. Betweencrookedshutters, apinkweltacrossnightsback, thesolublegrainofdawn, thishour, itsruins.

38

BloodHorse I. theshiveredlimb soallourprayers asmutedtrumpets ourenemies usurpingourpeace acrushedpetal ofredhibiscus gushedout,nuanced, andfelluponthestones sitdown. carveyourgriefuponthis rock singyourfear forlackofcovering ourbarbaroisdying.

39

II. Thesplinteredlimb andsothetreeshaveleftyou, uniformintheiruprooting harbor:gleamandfall nomoresafekeeping. refugeeblossom huedwithkamalaseed sleepsthetumulussleep ourwintering blacksmoke ashovercanaan hewndown nowbreakstheladenbough shedsitscargoofcrimsonleaves.

40

OldWoman,Weaving Shekneadsthebounty ofthespringlambsshearing. Betweenthecrushingcombs, eachstrandisfractured. Heroakknotheelpropels theceaselessspindle againstthemotionlessafternoonheat thecrimsonthreadofyourfamiliar voice unwindingintheloom.

41

IntheHouseatGruenwald FatheroncecomparedtheHouseatGruenwald toaburrensnaredinthefurofahunteddoe. Hewhoisresourcefulscrapescleanthewhite picketsofitsbones,boiledeventothemarrow. Thishouseitsstructurelopesthroughthickets threatenedbythehammersclaworisthis thedeerthreatenedbythehammeredbullet? Theanimalissoondestroyed;thehousesoondismantled. But,itiserectedyetagainbythosewhocarryitontheirbacks. Thosewhorunquicklythroughthestreets, Thosewhogatherthelinentotheirchestsastheyrun Thosewholeavethefallenbehind Thosewhotroubletoburythedead Thosewhoarethreshedintheharvest Thosewhoturnflaxintogarments Thosewhowearthegarmentsthataresewn Thosewhorendthegarmentsintheirgrief Thosewholaborthroughthefields,uprootingwheat Thosewhopoundthebrowngrain andlaythebreaduponthemakeshifttable WhereaspecialroomintheHouseisgiven Tohimwhohasboundthelastsheath.

42

Blackbirds thestarlingsflyover theirmidnightmassseekingroots. theblacktreeisconsumed, then billowingoutlike smoke theyturnenmasse fromthebrowninggrass ascend unweavingthetapestryofearth blanchingittobone thesebeasts rawforhome

43

Sweetgum fourspinedseedpods bereftofseed

pendulousfromtheblacktwig, acrowcalling

44

HangingatBuna pendulum

swings

bearingdarkweight

45

IntheHouseatMuselmnner Thehouseisonlynowbecomingvisible overthehillanddownthesteepslope. Anyoneapproachingitmightconfusethedwellingforachurchwithitshighhandedsteeple andpointing,accusatory finger.Theobservercantelltherustybellhasbeencored fromthebelltower astherotiscoredfromthepotatobeforeitislaid uponthetable.TheHouseatMuselmnnerisalwaysdecaying.Ifthetravelerdoes notimmediatelydescendfromthehillockandenterthehouse,hewillsee the earth beginning to reclaim this dwelling. The House at Muselmnner is not a house of Nogodcanlivethere. worship. TheHouseatMuselmnnerisbuiltofthresholds. The what upholding the structureisabsence.Itismadeofalltheflotsamwecouldfindduringourlongvoyageto thiscountry. Theparlorhasbeenformedfromthehollowofacheekandthe kitchenfromtheemptinessofamouth. The traveler is given to sleep in the vacancyofastomach,andhehimselfisone ofthehuskmenfromtheNorth.From thewhiteness of an eye, from the impossibility of vision, the roof is made. Despiteallitslack,thehouseistheperfectstructuretowithstandthestormsofthiscountry. Ifonehasalreadylosteverything. Whatstandsbeforetheeyes. Whatgivesitselftobeseen. Is not in this house. in winter. The rooms Itsjoistsdonotexpandinthesummer.Nordotheycontract refuseshape.Inthishousedwellssilence,andneither wind nor rain compelsit.Thehouseisfullofwraiths,ofthosetravelerswhohavecomeinside,thinkingto findshelterfromthefreezingsleet.But thewanderersweremisled.Theyhavelostsight oftheexits. The shutters do not bang against the windows. The doors do not rattle. Eventhewindwithitswanderlustfoldsitsdarkcloak to itself and assembles its campoutside.

46

Serafina,yourunrungheart thrummingnowasahandbell struckintotolling ahollow,migrantknell always, thenightjasmineblooming

47

TheSickBed Blueveined struck throughwithgold suchafallen autumnleaf asthisone hasrisen slightin anexhalation ofwind Itwillnotstiragain. Torn fromthetroughsofthethroats ofthesorrowing swellsafiligreeofshadowedtones thoughstrange Sonorous ismyvoice aftersolongatime withoutsinging

48

ACT VI
AbombEXPLODES Partofthewallgivesway. A rushofwaterburststhroughthenewopening, poolingatFathersfeet. Up,ridinguponthewave,appears.Shewearsa scarletdress.Herhairisunpinned. Fatherlooksupfromthewaterinwhichhehas seenhisreflection.Andsomethingbelowhis reflection.SeeingUp,hesuddenlyrecalls FATHER: how abrupt: myremembrancearrived attheshoresofyourmemory,sunk intohalferodedbanks wherecurrentsofyourwhiteflesh flowintoalanguageofnegation: ohunborn,unmarked,unlisted ohunfound how thecalico: wanderedintoourstorehouse togivebirth astheafternoondraped overthesteepleofthechurch andhow nextmorning, seeingoneofherlitter submergedinthewaterdish flowingalsoonward withyou Iremembered towhereyouhadflowed

49

Revelus Untilnow motiveshavebeenunclear thebirthdaycakewaitingonthetable fivecandlessparking,thenatthedoor aflurryofnoiselikequail startledbythehunter'shappening youandIareinthewoodsagain,Reader, scentingthecarcassbeforeweseeit Bynow,youknowhowIstruggle intermsofgrassandflowers totellyousomany ofthesesavagethings butyouhavethetact nottosayanythingaboutit Ineedtostopthishabit becausenowthereisarealneed tospeakopenly: Yesterday,ayoungman decapitatedhissisteronherfifthbirthday. Firsthermouthwaslaughing, thenthebloodwas redsalvia blossomingfromherneck See,Ilacktheabilitytospeak infacts. ThisisthelastpoemofyoursI'mgoingtoread, yousay. Butbeforeyoudo, youremarkhowmytongue resemblesthepinklobeofaniris andtellmeagainhowlove willalwaysbe ourgrounding.

50

Homicide Twoflowershadfallenfromthe oleander thismorning Twoboys// shottodeath

51

IntheHouseoftheDolls He will find no glowing embers in the hearth. The fire long since has become char. The unseenfoundationsofthisfortressriseupfromthetangibleworld.Whoarethesemenwho unburdened the womens scalps of hair and softened thus the floors and upholstered this waythechairs?Whoarethesemen? Thetravelerwhocomesuponthishousewillnotgoin,butwandersinsteadintotheedifice ofhisownbody.Here,akitchenoflungsandacurvedstair,strengthenedwithcurvedrib bones. The belltower of the throat and the bell of the heart. The structure thrums with silence. Theexitsopen onlytotheinvisibleworld.Whatmancanenterthishouseandreturnagaintotellwhathe hasseenwhohasleftthewakingworldtowanderinitsinfiniterooms?

52

animpossibilityofgaze nothing awoolcoatwith

butaquestionremaining

one missing button

spectacles,anunnecessary awhitestairwith shadowsmarkingtheplacewhereyoumustliftandlaunch yourbody amanonhisface butnotinprayer Figuren gravely,theirbodies suchanabundanceofdirtfordigginggraves launched gravely,FatherturnedtoSerafinaandkneltdown:youmustbegood,doeverythingtheytell youandyouwillbe safe disdainfulofhergirlishtastes,Adolf therewaslikelytobeastone wherevermanwas tooweakto carryit throughnaturalmeans whereacurbisdisturbedbyachildsarm ,trailing thetwowomenlookasiftheyareplayingagame,but thekillingofKubis aseriesofreprisaloperations

53

Numbers OnlythoushaltnotnumberthetribeofLevi, neithertakethesumofthemamongthechildrenofIsrael: ButthoushaltappointtheLevitesoverthetabernacleoftestimony, andoverallthevesselsthereof,andoverallthingsthatbelongtoit (Numbers1:4950,KJV) 1942andcontinuedthroughouttheyear ,19,leapstoherdeathfroma5thfloorwindow December31.Krugerwillinglyobeyed. abaldingengineerinhisearly60s OnAugust11,ratherthanaccept trainsarrivedwithover80percentofthepassengersdeadfrom undertheageof10andover65mustbe 84 executedbyhangingonApril9 andtheyshallbemypeopleandIwillbetheirGod.(Zec8:7 in1937.The StanglwenttoTreblinka.Between750,000and870,000 Intotal,about800,000 Asaresult,about110,000 Aktion,65,000 33,554locatednearPrague morethan16,000fromAugusttoOctober Afurther13,000wouldbe toproducesyntheticrubber,withsome10,000 1912.Fromthispositionheopeneditsdoorstoroughly10,000 theadministratorofNicewasanxioustogetridofthenearly8000 7000peoplepackedintothearena untilthemiddleofAugust,between5000and7000 mayverywellhavebeenamongthe5000 Some3500womenwhotrained Theirbundles(pictured)nevermadeitontothetrain.The3000 whocalledthisplacehomeafterthe3000 another2500weresent securedthereleaseofmorethan1000people .Ofthefirst1000shippedto 300areshot.Ofthe700 671andconvoynumberwhichindicates couldhold600 Outofthe503governmentofficials approximately300villages helped80to100FPOmembersescape 162Sonnabend morethan100ofwhomform

54

110,000were 25,000were 4415were 1087were 700,000were 2were

13,000were Upwardsof5000were 600,000were 3000were

250,000were 37,000were 2500were 6000were

55

Epilogue
Calanthestandsalonenexttothebrickwall,nowshattered,itscobblestonedbones scatteredatherfeet. CALANTHE(Overandover):Itisournaturetorebuildit.

56

Andwhatifthemiraclehappenswereallwaitingfor?Maybe... GeorgioAgamben

57

You might also like