|“many runes the cold has told me, many lays the rain has brought me… sentences the trees created… laid them in a chest of boxes… long they lay within my dwelling, through the chilling winds of winter, in my dwelling-place for ages.” (kalevala)
my story tonight. it starts with young love.
this man’s first impression of her is the intermingling of precious metals (all that gold and copper in her hair). struck a chord unique enough to resonate for a while, adding this special dimension to all qualities of hers he could rationally quantify. her pretty face, her character, her complicated past. fast forward a few years. they sit together in a waiting room. her eyes are red, her hand is cold. he knows she’s suffered much (complicated past and all), and he wants to help her in any way. so he reaches into his pocket and pulls out a tiny wooden box.
he tries to share with her another first. in this memory, his grandfather hands him a handmade box of no particular beauty. but of course a working hinge and perfect symmetry are wonders in themselves. slowly, he opens it to reveal an interior of the richest red. and it’s like he’s seeing the color for the first time. R-E-D flashes in his mind, awareness leaps out at him, the tone so vivid it vibrates. the platonic ideal of red. afterwards all red things remind him of that moment. so all these dissimilar things — apple, corvette, lipstick, blood — seem drawn together with a red thread. this is what his grandfather gives him. a sense of interconnectivity in a chaotic world.
she listens. politely, she regards the box for a moment. then she looks him in the eyes and says, “you can’t understand, because you’ve been lucky all your life. i’m actually happy for you, that this is it all it takes to make you feel better.” she rises, turns, and walks away, slowly, dramatically, bearing the weight of her complicated past, and it seems her tragic pathos renders his simple, pure joy: some paltry trinket, an empty box of no especial beauty.
now i want you to imagine a knife sliding through an overly ripe fruit. in a course no more complicated than this, a woman’s mind may be neatly halved, each part left smaller and dumber than the whole. so half a woman is on her knees and cleaning blood off the bathroom floor. since she possesses only half her senses, her thoughts are simple: she is tired; her knees hurt; the tiles are cold and dirty; she can not remember the sound of her name; she does not care anymore. these thoughts run in a loop with the repetitive motion of her hands as she swipes and wipes the blood in red circles.
as she cleans, her other half remains within a darkness that first manifests in a closet. this half fears the noises outside and the roaches inside until the space becomes a place of wonder, like a magician’s box in which all matter, no matter how warped, may undergo a beautifying transfiguration. she waits, suspended in nothingness, waits for her metamorphosis. waiting and waiting and slipping further into senselessness. suddenly she feels a touch upon her left hand. out of the vacuum, this hand finds hers. cool, dry fingers curl around her fist. she does not wish to breathe or move, because she knows the slightest shift towards reality will disrupt the illusion. she wants to hold onto that hand for as long as she can, until the magician’s box is unlatched, and then it will be only her two hands, and some mess to clean up.
there is no more trace of blood on that bathroom floor. she reels and wonders if this is when she is supposed to cry and scream. instead she feels a quiet relief, some strange sensation, this weird impression of being made whole after being divided, the shock of two hands finding each other in what was presumed to be infinite nothingness.
so, imagine the young man in the waiting room; he is beside the one he loves, but for the first time in his life, with real meaning and sincerity, he feels lonely. next imagine the woman who is physically alone, but not lonely, because there is a hand in the darkness that holds her to this world. our joys and sorrows are too personal to be communicable, their value impossible for outsiders to judge. this is what was on my mind as i stood in front of henry darger’s paintings. thinking about this man whose diary entries were dull and hinted at no great imagination, a plain man who never stood out from the crowd and never attracted close friends. only after he died, people saw the incredible, riotous, colorful, rich world he’d invented. so this word comes to me again, again and again, all the time: incommunicado.
tiny things on my desk. worry doll, miniature pencils made of toothpicks, a poem (so telling, huh? :D) i cut out of a book of nonsense rhymes when i was nine or ten. etcetera.
tantrums over tangles
posted by susie on Saturday, January 26, 2013, at 3:51 am. Trackbacks are closed, but you can post a comment.