Juste une fable n° 27


dreamscapes (betrayals) n° 12



Mary Shaw


one picture in particular, one of the worst ever seen. a canyon, where carcasses, perhaps of deer, were being ritually thrown. at first this seemed very sacred, right and religious, not cruel. here and there, a heap of flesh and bones flung into the fermenting earth. and one or two people, sometimes me, were appointed to scale the sides of the canyon, keep track of these falling bodies. but most of the time, all of us were standing on a rim around it. and within that ring there were negotiations, family ties, and agreements about who was who and to be what. this is where the horror began.

a little girl in green, playing near the edge, looking into the canyon sometimes, darting in and through the other children and surrounding adults. she becomes aware by bits that a decision has been made. it is she now who must be thrown into the canyon and she is scared. she tries to back away, to escape, but understands she will be caught.

whats happening to her, what happens to her, has nothing personal to do with her, it’s about what’s good for the community. but no adult wants to take the work on, the task of throwing her down into the canyon to become a heap of flesh and bones like the rest. so it’s left to the other children. one child, particularly bold, in white, bravely does the deed. this is a lanky little boy. he scoops up my little girl in green and hurls her into the canyon. a flip over his head and shoulders. and i wake up.

ondine, this is and is not your story.

no one could hurl your bones into the canyon, because your flesh was nipped in the bud. nipped in the bud by me, under the “influence” of mother, the good cop, and tina. all the advantages were discussed of throwing you down the well. and the execution was all so simple, so clean. have we ever discussed how easy? ides of march, 1980.

just give me a life, here now.

o.k. i can see you walking, wandering, around griggstown. mostly down by the canal. communing with the deer, of course. you stretch out your little arm, warm, delicate, clad in a sheepskin coat. something, i guess, you found. and you also have kaibab boots, dark brown, up to the knee, that i gave you for your 21st birthday, something from arizona (coming from me and my mom) and your sister’s given warm, warm leggings. your feet barely touch the ground.

* * *

give me more.

here is another (love) story.

i was clearly in the backstreets and was invited into a “maison de passage.” in there was a beautiful woman, a prostitute, who had been a friend of mine. but she was only there momentarily on her way to somewhere else. i don’t know what i was doing there. i was in the corners, i was lurking around, waiting for her or for something to happen. and eventually it did.

she approached me, had no shirt on, and i saw that her breasts were beautiful. her eyes were shining, her hair was yellow, tumbling, her lips were parted in a smile. we came into contact intensely through our faces. we were together, but barely. i believe she was touching my torso and looming, straddled, bare-chested over me. but the strangest thing was the climax, the apex of this scene. everything was happening through our faces, whose moving mutual fixation became more and more intense, till finally it was finished, and we vomited simultaneously in light puddles on the floor. the only particularity on my side was that i was conscious from the inside of the vomit coming out of my mouth. it gushed its way through a top retainer – plastic palate, thin wire strip – as though it were a dam.

i was not disgusted. the event seemed natural and manageable enough. we were able to clean up the vomit puddles in an instant as though they were little milk splotches brought up by babies’ burps.  and then we went about our usual business.

i don’t know really what my friend’s business was, nor even her name, but for the purpose of clarity i’ll call her lila:

Lila (Sanskrit), or Leela […] The world is a mere spontaneous creation of Brahman. It is a Lila, or sport, of Brahman. It is created out of Bliss, by Bliss and for Bliss. Lila indicates a spontaneous sportive activity of Brahman as distinguished from a self-conscious volitional effort. The concept of Lila signifies freedom as distinguished from necessity.

—Ram Shanker Misra

lila (or leela) was on the run. and my only concern was to follow and observe her. she grabbed her things after our foray, and escaped from the brothel into a parking lot, wearing a trench coat, large sunglasses, and remaining significantly covered by her long blond hair. i suspect she was also wearing well-heeled boots. but she climbed into a rather ordinary if fast car, and i slid into some other vehicle just behind her.

was it a taxi or a police car?

this i couldn’t say, but there was certainly a chase involving these. it was conventional and didn’t last long. there were patches of snow, hills, and broad asphalt city streets.

Mary Shaw est professeure de littérature française des dix-neuvième et vingtième siècles à l’Université de Rutgers (New Jersey). Outre ses travaux universitaires, elle a publié deux livres pour enfants ainsi qu’un recueil de poésie intitulé Album Without Pictures (Halifax, N. S., Editions VVV, 2008).


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