I mixed a personal and an impersonal pronoun. I was part of that sensation. I belonged to another club, that traveled without speaking. I had become so very tired that I was almost without identity. Yet I did become irritable, and was known as a person it was best to stay away from. Nevertheless, I remained interested in the details of my dress. Nothing so complex as the triangular folding of handkerchiefs, and the way pockets display them, but basic colors, and whether my skirt was full or straight. I discovered my voice to be that of someone coquettish, kittenish, but too old for this role. So I would turn it upon children without warning, and they never responded well to me. We were walking through a largely magic garden. I saw him not as a rich man nor as my husband's employer but as someone who through being there made me notice all the flowers, one by one. First I saw a big rose, such as appear in cut glass in houses, or in old pickle jars, or in vases large enough for only one stem. Then another kind of rose, smaller, wilder. Then lilies. Of course I knew that none of this was "natural." It was a cultivated garden. Still, I had never looked at them before. I suppose in this sense it would be right to consider me dumb. What, then, did I look at before? Exactly, I was preoccupied with myself. And why? Because I was concerned with attracting the one I was with. But this man was a blind sort of man, a prophet or an enemy, someone who could never seem familiar. I tried to imagine him in a grocery store but knew he would enter there without being there, and thus would emerge unclaimed, unscathed. And because this man was blind, I lost this preoccupation with myself. I could not endeavor to attract a man who did not (through his eyes) notice things. And so I began to notice them, as if to make up for it. A case of the blind leading the blind, as the adage goes. Who knows these things anymore? And I cried, out, in the wilderness, but my cry did not come back to me. It rang as the sound of another person. It carried and mixed with sounds of other people. They lived in houses whose walls form the line of the street, broken by small entrances. With my cry he waved his hand toward a distance, as if tracing his own gesture. He did this often with sounds of uncertain origin. I am not exactly sorry. Certainly it seems that my life would have been less complicated, had I resisted my desire.
Barbara Einzig's works include
Color, Disappearing Work,
a new fiction. After three years in Venezuela, she is living in New Jersey, and has very recently given birth to Chloe Indigo Guss.