The house’s old and unarticulated heart was pulsating in my veins its sophisticated poison, to keep me a prisoner eternally. I could see from the bedroom’s window how, in the city’s houses, the scented candles were being lit one by one.
I took a hot shower and went out for a walk by myself. I went to the river, to watch in its disorders waters the millenary passage of the giant turtles.
When I came back home, Marion was sewing the glass bottoms of my favourite shirt, as she had torn them some days before.
Her ankles were thin, covered with a golden mist of hair, and she was wearing an indecent black lace corset, too tightly laced on her already too small waist.
I realised I would never be able to get used to her fabulous sadness. I had no illusion that we would ever be happy together, but I could not let go, not yet.
“Let’s dance”, she asks me.
“Put some music on.”
“No, I will sing into your ear the most beautiful song in the world. Come closer.”
The following day, an explorer invited us for brunch and told us:
“When my wife died, the pain was bigger than anything I had ever experienced, maybe even bigger than my love for her. I would watch her photos for hours and had no more hope. In one of these photos she was particularly beautiful, she was wearing a velvet dress and, around her neck, a wooden pendant representing the head of a forgotten god, which I had brought to her as a present after a month of anthropological research in a lost village in the heart of Africa. I invested all my money in mass producing the pendant, which sold fairly well, especially in the ethnic shops. Now I can say that I am quite rich and at peace. Some while ago I buried my scrotum in my wife’s tomb. It’s better this way.”
He served us excellent coffee, fine champagne, caviar, and expensive cigars.
A mathematical genius, practicing the saxophone as a hobby, invited us to have coffee with him. For a while we indulged in small talk, but all of a sudden he said:
“After complicated calculi of astronomy and mathematical analysis, I came to the conclusion that an unknown prophet was sent to live between us and deliver a secret message.”
He continued talking, while I was imagining that I was undressing Marion, who was listening to him all concentrated. She likes it when intelligent people talk about her on the third person.
In pots of golden porcelain, our saxophone-player top-floor neighbours (two lively widows, mother and daughter, who loved jazz) were growing stinging nettles. Their flat was tiny and full of funny hand-made objects, and would always smell like freshly burned incense. In the evening they would sometimes invite us to watch together their favourite period drama series; they baked the best cherry pies in the world. One night, when we came back from their place, Marion told me:
“The neighbour told me they will give me some good compost – I told them I want to do some planting on the terrace. I would like to plant my umbrella in a ceramic pot: after a while it will open up and grow leaves, flowers, and fruit.”
“What kind of fruit?” I asked.
“Oh, you know, some of those small cocktail paper umbrellas.”
In an oriental ceramic pot, I was growing wild ivy, my favourite plant, which almost killed me once (but this is another story).
Marion would imitate in the evening a leaf on the wind, in the rhythm of the saxophone melody coming from our neighbours’. She would lean and dance, the folds of her light-green dress softly rustling.
I photographed, out of pure esthetical curiosity, the dry poplar tree in front of a hideous yellow house. I was imagining that, on the negative, the branches might look like the vascular network of a giant lung.
I could hear from somewhere a saxophone.
A group of young happy black girls passed near me. They were almost drunk and asked me to take their picture, and I photographed their long and delicate ankles. One of the girls opened her bag and threw upon me a fist full of glittering stars. The others started laughing, made a close circle around me, and starting tearing the stars from my hair.
I clenched my hands on my photo camera, my only eye, my religion, the cradle of my somnolent thoughts.
I met the Fox-Poet on an old street. She was elegant with her cashmere top, fine wool trousers, and long leather riding boots. Fragile and provocative, with her orbits full of pearls and old watches’ mechanisms, she looked like a rose running down the street, screaming out loud poems about the fundamental matter of love. The magical pendant in the form of a small saxophone she was wearing around her neck was accompanying her words with its delicate thunder.
Marion fell in love at a concert with a handsome foreign saxophone player, who left the following day without giving her his phone number or address.
She painted her face with thick make-up, so that I would not see how hurt she felt. I tore off with my nails the layer of colour, I kissed her forehead and started to caress her. Under my heavy arsenal of caresses, her sadness started to unravel, for some hours. But just for some hours.
We visited, in a little courtyard surrounded by medieval buildings, a small candles manufactory. The owner had restored at his own expense, some of the original Latin proverbs about the virtue of chastity inscribed on the stone walls, and he would proudly explain them to the visitors. He was an interesting man: a former saxophone teacher in a boys’ school, he had studied at the local conservatory and spoke fluently fourteen languages. He was always wearing impeccable gabardine suits and was obviously in love with Marion, as he was sending her every week a fancy box with scented candles. Maybe Marion could have also had some tender feelings towards him, if he hadn’t seriously told her one day: “In a former life I was a tree.”
“Oh my God you cannot imagine how ridiculous he was, staring at me like that!”
During the period of hard frost, this woman, who pretends so easily in front of the strangers, walks alone in the city dressed nonchalantly with a violet silk dress and green stockings, surrounded by saxophone melodies.
That’s why I am worried, and I cannot sleep.
I can’t sleep. I hear in the distance, in some unknown neighbourhood, a sad song. I remember past disquieting occurrences involving several young saxophone players, and I wonder where and with who is Marion, in such a profound night.
Here are the facts:
In the train taking us to the sea, a young saxophonist, with long hair, was playing jazz.
We moved closer to him and we waited for him to take a break to ask:
“Why are you playing heartbreaking funeral songs in regional trains?”
“I make my living like this. I don’t pay rent, I eat for free and I get drunk every night. I like my life. I am free, and nothing else matters for me.”
Marion covered her cheeks with his hair and kissed his ear lobe.
It was hot and the heat had melted the city’s medieval walls. From the living room’s window one could see a desert field.
“What a terrible heat, isn’t it, girls!”
Marion looked with disgust towards the saxophone player sitting in front of us. He had perfect teeth, one woman’s breast and a white mouse on his shoulder. He told us that he was a divine prophet and that he would die heroically at the young age of thirty one. But he was wrong, because he died shortly after that day, in a car accident, at the age of twenty eight. I can’t even remember who invited him to our place.
A saxophonist wearing a plastic carnation behind his left ear was playing in the market place. In front of him there was a turned hat with some little coins inside. Marion searched in her pockets and, not finding any money, took off her gold earrings and put them in the hat.
The saxophonist stopped his melody and looked deeply in her eyes. His lips damaged by past typhus were hiding his toothless gums.
On the occasion of an oriental religious celebration, Marion offered me one of her pairs of beautiful vintage shoes, which she had had enough of. I was walking down the street wearing them and everyone was watching me with admiration. I was crossing the city in a dancing pace, devoured by the equinox’s insects, thinking about my future rebirth. It seemed to me that I could have even crossed the river with them, or stepped over the churches’ domes and bell towers, or even convinced some high school pupil, dressed in his impeccably ironed uniform, to make love to me in a dark passage.
One day, on a pedestrian street bearing the name of an obsolete musical instrument, a distinguished lady smiling discretely gave me her business card, telling me that if I ever got weary of my shoes, I should call her. Her mere presence frightened me (maybe because she was wearing a black hat on her somehow too big head); adding to the fact that I had always believed that others’ desires enslave us I took my shoes off and convinced her to take them, as I did not want to see them again.
I went back home barefoot and ecstatic. I told Marion everything about my good deed, and she admired my generosity.
After some days I started to miss my beautiful shoes. Nobody was looking at me with admiration on the street, even I didn’t like to see my own reflection in the shop windows.
I had kept the distinguished lady’s business card (never again did I meet her in the street), and sometimes I would call her after midnight and scream irate threats, with a handkerchief on my mouth, so that she would not recognise my voice.
But my fury would not diminish; like a bird with ugly feathers growing from the top of my skull, it knocked my forehead with its long beak, to sip through the cleft my secret substance, all bloody and warm.
1. I spent nine months in constant agony, as I felt that my spirit was not in peace, and wanted to leave my body.
2. After realising that my mind was unworthy of such boiling fury, I decided to let my feathery spirit go.
3. No nervousness. In the half-light of the evening, in the first day of the first month in the year of the leopard, I told my spirit, with an unpronounced voice full of melancholy and trust: You shall leave into the world and suffer in its captivity, if this is your wish.
4. Only an indefinable chill lurked on my skin as my spirit departed slowly and I, like a sphinx, accepted my fate.
5. From a distance I contemplated my spirit, full now of blood weighty like red marble, receiving earthly signs.
6. I sought solace in the thought that my spirit took away my whole previous existence, with its sorrows and vain hopes, and so I started anew, as the universe cannot hold two things that are identical.