Friday, August 06, 2004

Transcendental Etude XII

What was transcendence anyway ? She was in one of her blue fugs of disgust, lately. If there was such a thing as an inner landscape, hers was positively Boschian this week -- a death and demon ridden charnel plain of catastrophe, complete with plumes of smoke, catherine wheels and a tattered, out-of-work, pissed-off court jester snarking away at everything.

She thought of fluorescein, the yellow-orange dye she'd instill into patients' eyes to check for corneal abrasions. "Things will look orange to you for a few moments," she'd warn them. "You," she never said, "will soon be casting a jaundiced eye upon things. Just as I do !"

She'd opened a book of hours the other night, looking for some vespery quietness, and at the first "The LORD" she'd thrown it down in frustration. "Who the hell is this The LORD dude, anyway," complained the jester, brushing a few cinders off her cheek. "Master, ruler, husband," replied the OED, "from the old english hlaefweard, or bread-keeper." Bread keeper ! He who earns the bread, locks it away, and parcels it out according to his whims ?

She was drowning in, choking on, the metaphor.

She thought of her ex-husband telling their friends how she'd once eaten a whole box of saltines in one day. "All four sleeves," he'd marveled at the climax of the tale, "all four sleeves." The same husband who, when she'd starved herself to bone after their child was born, had filled their cabinets with all the wretched, horrid junk food she could never resist and would eat compulsively, and thereby "cured" her. Or so he liked to boast. The very same hlaefweard, in fact, who'd once said "I'll divorce you if you ever get fat, unless, of course it's because of a thyroid problem, or some other medical conditon."

She knew a thing or two about LORDS.

And yet hadn't she found her way to sleep on many a restless night, repeating The LORD is my shepherd, I shall not want ? That was the munificent, sheltering The LORD of green pastures and still water, the prepared table and the overflowing cup.

And where was this The LORD leading his flock ?

Right through a vallombrosa worse than her inner landscape. Smoke, lowering clouds, slaughter, blight, decay, the whole ravaged nine yards. Which was, strangely enough, also meadow and brook.

Apocalypse and pastoral at once.

Good Lord. How peculiar.

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