28 February 2008

"The Serpent's Apple"

How Al Spoke to Beatrice on the Way to the Safe House

(Mud Sky, a tiny story, 1990)

At a party I stood up rude in the middle of a conversation that showed no sign of letting up and said I was going out to the golf course to walk it was nine thirty and dark and a little snowy and a woman I didn’t know said now at night isn’t it spooky and scary and I said no and she said I wouldn’t feel safe and I wouldn’t go good-bye I said and went anyway and snow which was hardly snow at the party but got deeper until at the golf course it was about three inches and more in some places I was wearing sneakers but went anyway with a few beers in my belly out through the dark and snow over a series of humpy hills and then out beyond the golf course into the wild lands at three rivers where the snow was even deeper and walked up the spine of the highest hill I remembered the woman at the party who was afraid for me stood under a sick sky that was reddish purplish grey and mud-colored elated felt a hundred times safer and more at home with the snow and all the strange sky and the dead weeds poking through and the foxes than I did at the party with people I didn’t know even though they seemed intelligent and interesting and sort of nice I had in the dark snow a strange sense of peace and contentment and stood alone and alone and then I heard a baying maybe a dog or coyote or wolf it sounded wild but then I thought of Ellie and wished she could be there too and knew that if she were it wouldn’t be the same night quiet open but some other night that had her in it and my heart racing if in my nervousness I didn’t start blabbing or kissing and have to pretend to be quiet to feel how I felt then without her Mom you know I felt so utterly still in the snow and sky but if Ellie or you intruded even softly that silence would exchange for love or companionship and then that night like the serpent's apple multiplied by loss and possibility was already changed and lost I couldn't recapture it but I wish I could give it to you it grows like a swelling on my heart like some kind of wound like eden on the tundra glimpsed and gone.

(An original story, told in one breath by Mary Stebbins Taitt)


---Michael--- said...

Mary continues to amaze me.

Mary Stebbins Taitt said...

It's a cross-genre piece, a prose poem int he form of a story or vice versa.

Although it is "fiction" and part of a fictional poetic novel (or cross-genre manuscript), it is based one something that happened almost exactly as written. Go figure. Well fiction is a lie that is true and nonfiction is just another kind of fiction.

Mary Stebbins Taitt said...

I'm glad you like it.

The fact that I thought you might is a compliment of sorts from me to you as I consider it a difficult piece, but important.

Ignōrāmus Nostradamus said...

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