What About Miriam?

Miguel raised from his chair. He walked to the bar, and poured bourbon in a glass. Then, he turned toward us: “What about Miriam?”  The room was silent, immersed in a soft, orange afternoon light.  Miriam’s memory was present, rising from the ashes of time, coiling deep into our souls, invading our thoughts, rarefying the air in the room.

Miriam: that silky voice of hers contrasting with the fury of her paintings; that simple line of her short black dresses so different from the fierce colors covering her canvases; that strong smell of Columbian coffee which she used to drink every morning while watching the city coming back to life from the windows of her studio. How many times I wondered what she knew and what she didn’t, for she has never said too much.  How many times I wondered what was behind her display of love for Jacques, and, his display of love for her? For I have always thought that it was something more, something hidden, something that for some strange reason I was not supposed to know.

Angelo spoke: “Did Miriam ever paint a spider?”

The book I was reading fell from my hands. I was baffled: “A spider?!”

Angelo smiled: “Yes, a spider.”

Miguel said nothing; his eyes half closed, his hands nursing the glass of bourbon.

Angelo continued: “A spider; garlands of roses wrapped around his legs.”

Miguel open his eyes, a hint of tremor in his voice: “Can we talk about something else?”

I must have gotten irritated: “About something else? Yes, but first could I know what is it that we are talking about right now?”

Angelo raised his eyebrows: “Miguel can explain. He can simplify things. He is a reductionist.”

Miguel took a sip from his glass, watching me closely over its rim: “I definitely am, Angelo. I definitely am. I already simply my life with Clara!”

I smiled. In minutes the room got darker, the aroma of a masculine perfume, coming from nowhere was floating strangely in the air, penetrating my senses. I raised my hands to my temples, and I understood. Angelo, was not talking about any painting of Miriam’s. Nothing in our conversation was about Miriam! Angelo was talking about a pair of cufflinks that Jacques used to wear from time to time; a golden pair of cufflinks encrusted with little roses and something else; something vaguely resembling a spider. What was Angelo trying to tell me? And why was Miguel staring silently at the floor? The ring of a phone surfaced from the depth of my mind. Desperately somebody was calling my name. Who was it? When did it happen? I looked at Miguel. Tears in my eyes, I whispered: “Miquel, please, please!” He drank his bourbon, set the empty glass on the table, and said in a voice that I didn’t recognize: “No, Clara, no!”

 

I am the wounded healer who does not heal anymore

It happened while we were standing in the middle of the street, can’t remember if cars where passing by but I still remember the wind starting to blow suddenly, cooling my skin, drying my lips, undoing my hair, unraveling my colored dress, and blowing away the earth tones of the afternoon air. No, that wind was not going to put down the fire burning inside me:  for that I needed the blows of arctic winds, and, arctic winds do not blow in this city. I looked at the buildings around us and instantly they started deteriorating under our very eyes; they were growing older, channels entrenched into their facades, channels left by painful tears on wax faces.  Wet leaves brought by the wind got caught into Miguel’s hair. The old laurel wreath of dead heroes! But he was no hero. He was just standing there and staring at me. He was standing there believing that loving me would make him a hero. I stretched my left arm and touched his cracked lips. I whispered:  “I am the wounded healer that does not heal anymore.  I cannot make you into a hero.  I died long time ago, and yet a fire still burns inside me.  Go away, go to the end of this world and wait for me there. Between two lives, between two centuries, between two sufferings, I will look for you. I will find you, and then I will heal you. Now, I am just the wounded healer that does not heal anymore. He who touches me dies.” Around us mounds of ocre wet sand. No buildings were left. Tears of sorrow were falling from his eyes. And the wind stopped blowing leaving behind the faint smell of the warm salty ocean.

 

The Power of Matter

A sky of gray and pink tones was descending upon us. The ocean was petrified, its agitated face morphed into an immense silent mirror. A heavy silence was flowing between the high clouds and the water, meandering like a black venomous snake in a humid jungle. Sitting on the shore, bewitched by an eerie laconism, none of us moved or spoke.

After a while, Miquel said: “To me it’s easy to describe Jezebel.  After all, she is matter only. She is the sum of her senses which unravels her passions, her anxieties, her neurosis, her most hidden desires, and, her quest for revenge so well masked under luscious smiles. All those amount to the uppermost egoism. She mirrors herself into herself, entombed in a mass of intrigues, flowers, furniture, books. She touches them like they are relics. Sometimes, I think she is a pathetic version of a fallen angel, full of sensuality, lacking intelligence, lacking pity. Or perhaps she’s just a drunken, pathetic Aphrodite. Other times – don’t smile – she looks to me like a boa, ready to constrict any suitor that may cross her way. Maybe because she rarely has any suitors. There is no spirit in her. She is made from matter, and matter is illusion, Clara. Matter is elusive. It’s fluid. It’s dark. ”

He felt silent. His green brilliant eyes were scrutinizing the horizon. I stood still for a while. Then, I turned to him slowly caressing the back of his neck.  Rain drops were falling on my face. Was I crying?

I put my lips to his ear, and I whispered: “Miguel, her uppermost egoism, masked by charitable smiles, her inner desires of a drunken, pathetic Aphrodite, are the results of her fears. Fear devours her, eats her insides every day, like a big vulture feasting on a wounded rabbit.  She is where she is because others put her there. And instead of fighting with herself she chose to fight with others. That was her mistake. Think, Miguel, think!  The spirit is as elusive, and, as fluid as, the matter. She can outstrip her body, she can morph into something else. Even a drunken, pathetic Aphrodite, can do this. Do I need to remind you Miguel? Do I?

 

 

Dusk and Dawn

 

His story was tragic. But he was too shallow to live his own tragedy, and too weak to escape it. It occurred to me that he has woven a web of lies in which he has perpetually lived like a curious spider lacking his own body. Night and day only crawling, spastic legs restlessly weaving lies, suffocating anybody who dared to approach him.  Empty, in the middle of his own cobweb, desperately contorting his legs, he was existing somewhere between heaven and earth in a demotic world not created by god, but by a relapsed and dark demiurge.

Suddenly, in the midst of that darkness, Miguel’s memory flashed before my eyes. His smile on a tropical balmy beach. His green eyes, the smell of the orchids that he put around my neck. His frugal kiss left on my lips. I hang on that memory with all my power, breathing through my every cell the overpowering smell of the tropic, out of fear that the empty creature in front of me was going to contaminate my blood, to devour my soul, and to drag me in a world of damnation.  I, for one, I was not going to be caught in his cobweb. Never!