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LES ANGES SONT BLANCS To Henry Miller Tout a coup Louis cessa de frotter ses jambes I'une contre I'autre et dit d'une voix lente: "Les anges sont blancs." BALZAC* Like a sailor in the shrouds he slipped over the tropic of Cancer and the tropic of Capricorn and it was natural he couldn't stand before us at a man's height but looked at us all from the height of a glow-worm or from the height of a pine-tree drawing his breath deeply in the dew of the stars or in the dust of the earth. Naked women with bronze leaves from a Barbary fig tree surrounded him extinguished lamp posts airing stained bandages of the great city ungainly bodies producing Centaurs and Amazons when their hair touched the Milky Way. And days have passed since the first moment he greeted us taking his head off and placing it on the iron table while the shape of Poland changed like ink drunk by blotting-paper 130 and we journeyed among shores of islands bare like strange fish-bones on the sand and the whole sky, empty and white, was a pigeon's huge wing beating with a rhythm of silence and dolphins beneath the colored water turned dark quickly like the soul's movements like movements of the imagination and the hands of men who grope and kill themselves in sleep in the huge unbroken rind of sleep that wraps around us, common to all of us, our common grave with brilliant minute crystals crushed by the motion of reptiles. And yet everything was white because the great sleep is white and the great death calm and serene and isolated in an endless silence. And the cackling of the guinea-hen at dawn and the cock that crowed falling into a deep well and the fire on the mountain-side raising hands of smoke and autumn leaves and the ship with its forked shoulder-blades more tender than the joining of our first love, all were things isolated even beyond the poem that you abandoned when you fell heavily along with its last word, knowing nothing any longer among the white eyeballs of the blind and the sheets 131 that you unfolded in fever to cover the daily procession of people who fail to bleed even when they strike themselves with axes and nails; they were things isolated, put somewhere else, and the steps of whitewash descended to the threshold of the past and found silence and the door didn't open and it was as if your friends, in great despair, knocked loudly and you were with them but you heard nothing and dolphins rose around you dumbly in the seaweed. And again you fixed your eyes and that man, the teethmarks of the tropics in his skin, putting on his dark glasses as if he were going to work with a blowlamp, said humbly, pausing at every word: "The angels are white flaming white and the eye that would confront them shrivels and there's no other way you've got to become like stone if you want their company and when you look for the miracle you've got to scatter your blood to the eight points of the wind because the miracle is nowhere but circulating in the veins of man." Hydra—Athens, Nov. '39 132 ...


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