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2) Green


     Things looked the way they partly were.  But things were also not the way they looked.  That is, to whom did not desire to see. 

     For others there were different things though seeing them took time.

     Her neighborhood was green and clipped, the trees were straight and tall, the houses stone.  She lived where she had always lived. 

     I didn’t. 

     I had lived near there for a time but I was leaving.  We were supposed to meet to say goodbye but she said she was coming down with something and didn’t want to leave her house.  Could I come there?
     She was almost old by then.
     I went.

     The house was cool and dark and had a smell of sweetness, something warm, some scent medicinal and skin and something damp.  I felt as if I almost felt the coolness of her skin, as if she had, though she had not, asked me to come sit next to her and press a cool wet washcloth to her forehead, to her neck, the white back of her neck, the front of it, her throat, the rise in her throat, the dip in it, and then the white of the breastbone beneath the throat where the cloth of her nightgown stopped.  
     Her face was very white.
     Also, her hands, as if she’d asked, though she had not, to come and take each cool and tired one, its blue and tender pulsing veins, then both - the hands would give to me - and then again her forehead and again her face and lips, her cheek and neck, again her neck, her throat and then below the throat, my hands, the cool and careful pull away of cloth.


     The tips of the hair at the back of her neck were moist.  From fever, sweat?   Or from a cloth that had been dipped by me   into a bowl and held to her.
     Her hair was black, but not as night.  The night outside, though dark, was hardly black.  (I’ll get to that...)


     The curtains were drawn, the lights were low.   She said that she was sensitive to light.  The shadows underneath her eyes were like a widow’s in a book.  Her pale lips were pale.  Her eyes were black as pools. 
     The air was clammy, cool like everything, the curtains, carpet, piano, books, the couch, the chair wherein she sat, the cloth I’d put against her skin.  The air felt on my skin like someone else’s and I breathed it in, this other’s air, as if to get whatever she had too or she was coming down with because whatever it was I wanted it too.  I wanted to be the way she was and then to have her. 


     (Here follows a brief scene to be completed later...)


     Was she already sick, or then infected?  Did she give me a germ or did I she?


     My lips felt blue as bruises.  I was sore.
     I later left.
     (I promised then a thing I did not tell.) 
     I opened the door and went outside.  When I came out, outside was strange.  It had turned night although the night outside was hardly black.  The light had changed as if before a storm.  The air was charged electrically and something - not exactly clouds - made everything look yellow, yellow-green, chartreuse, a fevered hue, as if mere green was mere no more but foreign, a new form of life as if from outer space, mysterious and glowing and alive.  The sidewalk looked like putty, as if, were I to step on it, I’d leave a print, then when I tried to take another step it would suck me down like a man-eating plant in a science fiction movie, a rubbery dusty rose-red-pink and orange or glow-in-the-dark flesh-looking thing that opens and closes like a giant clam except with flesh instead of shell, with deep blood rose-red red insides as if a throbbing cut surrounded by a big round “O” of tentacle-teeth from a different or even the same science fiction movie.
     I stepped on the sidewalk and I was not sucked in.  I took another step.  Again was not.  I turned to see if had left a mark but I had not.  But I’d left something in the house, I told myself, I’d not left nothing there.  I couldn’t see outside from here (the lights were low, the curtains drawn).  I closed my eyes as if to see inside the house again; I couldn’t. 

     For that was what they wanted you to think, that it was, and we were, if we were so, disturbing and disturbed and rough, uncouth and spongy, slippery, or limp.  Repulsive, strangely shaped, a poison, an exotic, an insidious malaise such as might be contracted in exotic locales, the tropics, humid places and such, which would then require a horrible, dreadful regime (powders, purges, leeches, cupping, shock) to overcome, assuming one could recover, assuming one had survived, which one might not.
     I saw the different kind of green, a creature-seeming luminousness, as if like lichens, vibrant, also things beneath the sea, things underground that pulsed, were phosphorescent, as if light.  The green was yellow as on fire, a burning bush, a golden amber sap, as if infused with nectar, it was like drinking liquid light.   When I descended from the house my skin was cool and clammy where the sweat and so forth dried.  My mouth was sore.   My skin was chapped.  I palpitated like I’d eaten something wrong but I had not. 


     The house behind was dark though hardly black.
     Did she see what I saw inside? 
     I promised I would know when I came back.



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