Friday, June 18, 2010

Wife Without the Sign

I'd probably like her. There’s a story there. It’s just another story. That’s the limit of a blog. At least if you’re playing Scheherezade and depend on the daily page hits of a former lover to deliver emotional sustenance. It would have starved a gnat – to live so small as I. If I wish to consider her I have to do so in a fictional space.

And I don’t wish to come across as one of the frozen-on-the-vine women of the type that Judi Dench excels in wounded stiff upper lippedness to play.

The woman has good teeth, a nice smile. She wears a sleek jacket, of synthetic fiber, closefitting, zipped, reminiscent of sealskin, an animal’s pelt. There is a view of snow-covered mountains behind her. She’s slim, trim. Small on top. The formfitting garment shows this.

She’s always wearing dark glasses against the sun, in any image I’ve seen of her. (No, there is one, in which she's mirthful and forever looking down - but I've never seen her eyes. No, that's not true either, I've just thought of another.)

I wonder who took the picture. Perhaps she leads a double life. Perhaps it’s her lover at whom she’s smiling so warmly, chastely, professionally on the mountained ground. (Unlikely I think.) One doesn’t need to imagine that it’s a vacation shot, a trip to Gstaad, Squaw Valley, Sun Valley or Lake Placid. No, for all we know they have just stopped on the way home from the deli, at the park.

She stands against a chain and it’s interesting how it horizontally bifurcates the photo. She grasps at the chain with one hand (that we see - perhaps both), a nervous gesture it seems to me, belying her perfectly oval, open face - no, not so open, always those opaque glasses in whose reflected image, blown up, the photographer cannot be glimpsed.

If this were a horror film, say, The Omen, it’d be an ominous steeple or lightning rod coming vertically down in the image signifying the imminent lopping off of the next victim’s head.

Why do I torture myself? What is the point?

image: detail of mural by artist David Fichter,
West Cemetery (grave site of Emily Dickinson),
Amherst, MA


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