The Veil

What the girl saw was an excavation of the site of the feminine in the black hanging
down. It permitted insight and concealed. It took on a feminine history that begins with
the particular and goes back to beginnings. Like any object a woman has touched:
needle, cup, iron.

Notepaper, carpet, field. An excavation, a surface suddenly lost. What then? There's
more than appears in a chair! Wood, batting, thread, springs.

Overwhelmed, she avoided her mother's room. If she went in--she had to--she looked
straight ahead and made up surfaces: white, smooth. A bathroom.

Horses, a tree. She didn't look at her mother or think "mother," "woman," and stopped
anyone who said words that were about her: "Silver." Sshh.

She banged her shovel. She stuck to it like a soldier to his gun. Excavate. Sshh.

The face in the veil was indistinct. Kind. The air sighed. It moaned the moans of gener-
ations. Women's and children's eyes were clear. Their noses indistinct. Their mouths a

series of coverings and uncoverings that filled with earth and emptied themselves in
words. "Good ." "Work."

Here was an opportunity. But there was too much to go through. More than a simple
door. The key was caught in the veil. In generations of feminine history, in the net, a
tree. Things. The richness was overwhelming. There was too much time.

Boredom took her by the throat. There was no time for mercy.

Damn, she should have killed him with the scissors, gone to the spot in his back when
he was bending over to wind the dock. She could have rid their days of him and made
it a safer world for generations of women and children crying to be free of the prison of
his body, all waving guns.

Poor girl. Lost. Poor mother. Stop.

Sshh. "I don't think of my mother. There'll be no more house, or things that open. They
will be opened, without more 'in' or 'out' or traps."

Any word was a trap. "Late." "Early." Sshh.

She'd come in in the middle, she thought. She'd planned to stay on top and not disap-
pear. But she'd been caught on the corner of the walk to the front door of her own house.
On a path she herself had cleared, the shovel in her hand part of her shadow.

And her mother was receding, her face a veil over something that was sweet and vague.

And whole and sticky in the girl's mind as a candy apple at the county fair, where skin
had been a temptation behind a tent flap. She'd heard sighs and had fallen asleep,
her cheek on the canvas in the lights of the ferris wheel.

Love takes a woman's skin. It lifts her flesh and takes it from her. Stop. Don't look.

The girl stood with her eyes ahead. She developed a glance that stopped her mother
cold and anyone who was the girl's friend necessarily ignored. And her father sent her
upstairs for and told her to close her door.

She let herself be touched. She couldn't be alone. Stop. Sshh. She touched, because she
couldn't help notice things were lovely. She reached out.

Into the thing. She was touched where there was no surface. Where she opened, she
Didn't stop. No matter which way she turned her hand was out. A painter's brush drip-
ping with pigment. Color. Sshh.


Patricia Dienstfrey

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