All life leads to that first nakedness.
From then on, you only hid where I could find you. In the beginning, behind some kind of pilar, in some kind of bar lounge where you knew I would spend the boredom of afternoon. There was a note of commotion and panic in the casual air of these encounters. Early on, fear set in precociously. But precocity is not a quality imputable to fear. To see it like that would be the same as saying punctual death is precocious. This is demonstrated by grammar, in the verbal infinitive, the present continuous, and other forms. To die–ie–ie–ie–ie. So when we say it is dying that means it still lives, when we say I fear that means I want. There and then, the fear that what hadn’t happened yet would start to stop. Like when we say: is dying, or, fire not well put out.
That was until you hid where you had never been before. In a dark morning, I was not well awoken yet, behind the big chair at the foot of the bed, peeking over it, apprehensive. Afterwards, I didn’t know how to react when I pulled the closet drawer to find you curled up inside it. I took a deep breath, relieved for knowing I could quickly shut the drawer again. I savoured this possibility and was happy with the idea that it would work the other way around, too. I could open the drawer to you. But a found burrow is never safe again. A new hiding place must be discovered as soon as possible, and all belongings and bones moved into it. So, it was already in the mirror, looking at crevices around my neck, and then at the emblem of hair that started high up in the sternum and expanded cross-like, descending in a line down to the navel and below it, that, pulling my shirt away from the chest to look down at the opening of the collar, I caught you all nestled up, smiling a smile of glass such as I hadn’t seen before. There was a furtive moment when, while going through a pile of photographs I had brought back from my last trip, to preserve them, old stuff, family things, you dared place yourself behind my sister, the curls of your black hair swinging beside her blond curls and over her tiny shoulder of when she was still very much an infant. I knew then that I needed to take a good grip and remember to inhale slowly. To prepare myself. That was reality.
Opening and shutting the front door, crossing the corridor, pulling the hand, opening and shutting the bedroom door, less than a second, systole and rush. A film of shadows by nightfall. Perhaps you recognized those regions, by the look in your face, or perhaps your eyes were looking inside their orbits for better hideouts. I tried not to show you that
All urgency knows some kind of arrest at the time of the scaffold. We wanted to stay in the dark, to escape from the dark, to steal what belonged to it; to wash it of all starches and to knead it until nothing remained but the proteic elastic glittering matter, the crude. Fingers, too, were of no use. Fingers were half-amputated as they touched what they hadn’t touched before. The tongue, too, failed to acknowledge the new flavors.
It takes great courage. It takes being protected from the cold. It takes saying as little as possible, at the risk of everything being inappropriate. There was certainly a word which would make it all crumble down: the drop of water on folded paper. But no one uttered it. We stayed ignorant of which word it could be. Thank God. No shirt. No socks. A mouth is apt at so many things
(it has to say some sort of thing)
and, surprisingly, it is also good at smiling.
Everything we said made us laugh in a circle. Not knowing what to do was funny, and so was slipping and tripping once again, the sexes like stakes under the steps, turning the floor into waves. To be ignorant was funny, and now it was comfortable. Things could be observed at the exact moment they were happening. Everything had happened not yet.
The day could end now because the gestures inside it could be repeated. If I wanted to, I could even talk to someone about you. Someone might know you. It was I who knew you. Things became very concrete. The walls and the trees fit into a well delineated contour, each line in place, at a wholesome hour in the morning, under a fitting amount of sunlight.
Because of fear.
also. But where does this fear come from?
I don’t know. From the ground.
ent from mine.
Everyone is so quiet.
Ashamed. They pretend they’re not at home. Let me rest my leg like that, on your leg.
Get in the car.
I liked the arid roads, almost as if we had gone for a trip in Iran, camel-colored, and also almost as if, in between the faded asphalt, there had been the diligence of a few pearly fringes, right there, away from the sea. One road and then another one, streets in which we could only drive on and not meet anyone. Conjoined with the machine, fused with the machine the stationary body is ambulant, it always goes forward and only stops to gain propulsion and advance another mile. Some pheasant crossing the empty space at gunpoint at that moment couldn’t travel as fast. The bushes ceased to exist, they were left behind and we weren’t there anymore. We were now at a roundabout, the speed kept steady, sure of itself, mad, it was visionary and it viewed no obstacle, it viewed no one viewed. Speed could perhaps glide over that landscape, over rooftops, but it wouldn’t be necessary. Even my hunger was enough, and it was a joy, a longing for something to eat that ached like a good kind of sureness. The pressure on the pedals, heavy, but incisive, wouldn’t leave a footprint behind. That was my image of beauty. Some people have a way of making themselves beautiful by being skillful. They have only to manipulate a few handles or pull a few strings, eyes closed, exactly in the right direction, again, again, and again, blades, and we’re open-mouthed and speechless.
The house on top of the hill at nightfall. Above the walls and attics of the city far outstretched, down there, ploughfield of the dead. On top of the hill, as in stories, but it was real. Then anxiety and a slight exhaustion came, and a distance of the senses keeping themselves away from the wind that we catched a glimpse of, blowing low at street corners. Swirls of fine hot dust. In the morning, I’m in the balcony, smoking. This balcony overlooks a small park. The smoke climbs over the balcony, hovers over the stripped paint of the iron railing, and disappears. I’m alone and I never knew you. It’s the same day, and my room is aware that I never knew you, it is tidy and clean and quiet. Now and then, I take a peek inside, through the slit in the curtain, to observe the room, the black bookshelf leaning on the wall, to reassure myself, as I smoke. I should straighten a couple of disorderly books. Yesterday, I vacuumed the parquet floor, varnished, the floor should be restful, but I’m waiting for a package. Or is it a letter? I need to buy some groceries, but I have to stay here and wait. I can’t leave. Registered mail with notice. Waiting all day long. It’s the same day and I can’t leave. And I sense something in the other room.
The apartment is small, but there are two rooms. The second room is a kind of bureau and living room, and a guest room, and there’s someone in there. I know someone who I don’t know who is, and who is laying on the floor in the other room, inert, face turned down, pushed towards the sofa, facing the lightless space under the sofa, as if wanting to hide in the interval between the floor and the base, as if someone had wanted to hide it under there. I haven’t seen anything yet, I’m still smoking in the balcony, but I already know, I’m absolutely sure and in trepidation. Someone has been murdered in my house, in the other room, and it’s the same day and I can’t leave because I’m waiting for a package in the mail. With acknowledgment of receipt. Someone is coming here today and ringing the doorbell, and I’ll jump on my feet, startled by that formal, authoritative, whistle. I’ll have to open the door and I’ll be forced to sign my name. Registered mail. Someone might see it. Someone will. The postman will notice that I’m nervous and realize there must be a dead body in the other room. He’ll want to step in and confirm. By then, I’ll have signed it. But what to do with a dead body? I can’t leave the house today. I must stay in and wait. I have to buy some groceries. I have to tidy up the books, straighten their zebra-like spines using another book as a leveler. My hands are shaking, freezing, dead leaves about to fall down from the tree. Unspeakable thoughts come to mind. Ideas. I know it, but don’t know who it is.
How do you make a body disappear? She doesn’t reply. My fridge is named Miele KFN 28032 D, but I call her by her first name: Miele. All alone, there is nothing but antemeridian silence all around, and listening to her regular breathing, suffocated, but persistent, asthmatic and athletic, offers some sort of relief. It distracts me. Touching her smooth skin, her prodigal belly, and knowing it is filled, filled and shut, shut and safe, in all its shelves and drawers, seems to momentarily erase the despair, and to allow it to turn into a faint horror, and, above all, into enthusiasm. When I looked we were already inside the house; and the excitement was such that it clouded shyness, and almost clouded danger.
I hope you don’t plan to murder me.
In the house on top of the hill.
But I’ll murder you and no one will know. We’re isolated.
Laughing fills up the whole mouth. Touching fills up the hands and there isn’t room left for anything else, and even a small knife wouldn’t fit in ten fingers. Welcome, welcome. Sabbath Morning?
A spacious hall, more than one big chest pushed into the corner, and old furniture that no one put to use anymore, and turned-off machines, I liked them because if nobody takes them apart machines are immortal, they only sleep as in a coma, waiting, and the head of a wild boar hanging on the wall. And a lower door at the end, giving way, perhaps, to a wine cellar or to a cold perpendicular corridor at the back of the house. We weren’t going there.
Command to go up. It wasn’t the first time we climbed up stairs. Do people know how pleasant it is to climb up stairs? There are pinches and fluttering movements of support in it, playful slips. Pirouettes. We had been in the kitchen for some time now, finishing off some of our sentences in the wrong tone, off-key. Each of us apologized for everything, on the spot, hoping to be forgiven when necessary, at every minute.
It was you who put the apron down my head and tied it behind my back, pressing your body against mine. You laughed, for the first time, at things reconfigured. On me, the apron of the house, the notable apron, the distinction. The apron of the house on me, me in the apron, me in the house, the house on top of me, dressing me up. There were many knives in the kitchen drawers, they closed and opened, coins chinking in the pockets, teeth chewing. The first time I cooked for you, you pretended to lend me a hand. The want to eat that I had felt for weeks slowly vanished, and with it the anticipation, transformed into a vague disgust. How could I face that plate, in front of you, and eat, with the teeth, what was in it, in front of you, what I had made into being? But you weren’t too hungry either. Evidently unwell, however still happy, perhaps you knew something I didn’t. The alternative, the rosé. Everything was good and tasted bad. What a relief. After all, it was you. The bone of flesh.