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II Sensual Elpenor I saw him yesterday standing by the door below my window; it was about seven o'clock; there was a woman with him. He had the look of Elpenor just before he fell and smashed himself, yet he wasn't drunk. He was speaking fast, and she was gazing absently towards the gramophones; now and then she cut him short to say a word and then would glance impatiently towards where they were frying fish: like a cat. He whispered with a cigarette butt between his lips: — "Listen to this also. In the moonlight the statues sometimes bend like reeds in the midst of ripe fruit—the statues; and the flame becomes a cool oleander, the flame that burns man, I mean." — "It's just the light . . . shadows of the night." — "Maybe the night that opened up, a blue pomegranate, a dark breast, and filled you with stars, cleaving time. And yet the statues 16η bend sometimes, dividing desire in two, like a peach; and the flame becomes a kiss on the limbs, a sobbing, and then a cool leaf carried off by the wind; they bend; they become light with a human weight. You don't forget it." —"The statues are in the museum." — "No, they pursue you, why can't you see it? I mean with their broken limbs, with their shape from another time, a shape you don't recognize yet know. It's as though at the end of your youth you love a woman who stayed beautiful, and you're constantly afraid, while you hold her naked at noon, of the memory that wakens in your embrace; you're afraid the kiss might betray you to other beds now of the past which nevertheless could haunt you so easily, so easily, and bring to life images in the mirror, bodies once alive: their sensuality. It's as though returning home from some foreign country you happen to open an old trunk that's been locked up a long time and find the tatters of clothes you used to wear on happy occasions, at festivals with many-colored lights, 168 mirrored, now becoming dim, and all that remains is the perfume of the absence of a young form. Really, those statues are not the fragments. You yourself are the relic; they haunt you with a strange virginity at home, at the office, at receptions for the celebrated, in the unconfessed terror of sleep; they speak of things you wish didn't exist or would exist years after your death, and that's difficult because . . . " — "The statues are in the museum. Good night." — " . . . because the statues are no longer fragments. We are. The statues bend lightly . . . Good night." At this point they separated. He took the road leading uphill towards the North and she moved on towards the light-flooded beach where the waves are drowned in the noise from the radio: The radio —"Sails puffed out by the wind are all that stay in the mind. Perfume of silence and pine 169 will soon be an anodyne now that the sailor's set sail, flycatcher, catfish, and wagtail. O woman whose touch is dumb, hear the wind's requiem. "Drained is the golden keg the sun's become a rag round a middle-aged woman's neck— who coughs and coughs without break; for the summer that's gone she sighs, for the gold on her shoulders, her thighs. O woman, O sightless thing, hear the blindman sing. "Close the shutters: the day recedes; make flutes from yesteryear's reeds and don't open, knock how they may: they shout but have nothing to say. Take cyclamen, pine-needles, the lily, anemones out of the sea; O woman whose wits are lost, listen, the water's ghost . . . —"Athens. The public has heard the news with alarm; it is feared a crisis is near. The prime minister declared: 'There is no more time . Take cyclamen . . . needles of pine . . . IJO the lily . . . needles of pine . . . O woman . . . — . . . is overwhelmingly stronger The war . . ." SOULMONGER* IJl ...


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