Wednesday, February 20, 2019

Elevator Encounter

(A milling mass, like a dust-storm, or a London fog, in the foyer.  As Times Square or Grand Central is quasi the cosmos in miniature, so might this little scene  be a model, in miniature, of Times Square.)

(A green delta lights up and dings;  beneath that, the doors depart, revealing a pristine lit parallelepiped, its interior  for the moment  devoid of life -- like a bandbox, but obliging. 
From out the foggy massing figures, two  independently  congeal, and enter that inviting space, which seemingly, like the gate in "Vor dem Gesetz", has opened precisely for them: a young woman, who has entered first, and a man, who enters after.  Upright, they come to rest.  Behind them, silently, the doors slide shut.)

For a time -- brief as the clock ticks it, yet deep by the mind -- no word is spoken, as either gaze ranges randomly, rather over head-height, idly picking out and imagining spots in the featureless beige (was it), flat plastic paneling, as though prepared to read any public signage there might be;  things like, “No Parking”; “Non sporgersi”; or “Post No Bills”.  In absence of any such, their gazes drifted, lightly, noncommitally lower, as though by the mere action of impersonal gravity;  until, by the mere chance of so severely limited a geometry (had the two been but dots in a many-dimensional Calabi-Yau manifold, their gazes need never have crossed), they alit, upon each other.

“Mm-m.. Rather dreadful weather we’ve been having,” remarked the gentleman, truthfully enough, anent what the meteorologists had described, judiciously, as a “wintry mix”.  Yet said it, with a touch of emphasis only slimly supported by the banality of the observation;  so that a percipient semiotician, had any been present (invisibly, in the air) might have concluded that the manner here exceeded the matter in import.
And indeed, the young gentlewoman might well herself have been versed in the semio-interpretive arts:  for did not then, for an instant (no more), a touch of color mantle her cheek?  only to vanish, quick as the flicker of flame.

“Ahh… Come here often?” he ventured, soldiering on, though having received no explicit response to his first observation;  illustrating the vague ‘here’ with a faint and ineffectual gesturing towards the surrounding box, or possibly the containing building, voire the town,  voire  life on Earth.
At this, the damsel did reply.  “Only during this week of TDY; and today is my last day.”
Each now mum; each perhaps pondering this outwardly nugatory, yet ineffably  suggestive exchange.

Thus a profound silence now filled each several corner of the elevator, as it slowly, relentlessly, rose, towards, and finally beyond, another floor.  The only motion at all  was that of the elevator itself:  which, moving smoothly uniformly through Euclidean space, in accordance with Galilean Relativity, was not perceptible to the occupants in terms of applicable physics (and yet mayhap they do sense something, beyond the laws of kinetics:  as when the sleeper in the berth, on a night-train, somehow in dreams  tenses and senses when the conveyance enters the yet deeper darkness of a tunnel far beneath the Alps).

The third floor was reached; a light sprang on to that effect; and both he and both she  at once held their breaths;  and kept holding them, as the contraption eased to a stop, and the doors slid slowly open.  Was their twosome now to be adulterated?  Yet no-one got on;  and the doors, indifferent, slid shut again.

(Were this a murder-mystery, the burning question would now be:  What had happened to the presumable person on the third floor, who had pressed the summoning button?  Sudden heart-attack?  Kidnapped by a rival intel agency?  Taken up bodily to the Hereafter, in sudden Rapture?   Or snatched down to the Basement, by the Fiend? -- This not being a mystery story, we shall never know.)

Relaxing now, she smiled and said:  “False alarm.”
They both again fell silent, more comfortably -- we could almost say, companionably -- this time,  as the vertical chariot, as though drawn towards the zenith by some cosmic force, noiselessly effortlessly and ineluctably  rose to yet another floor:  and, this time unsummoned, breezed past it.

[Impatient, my experienced and worldly readers chafe:  What did he not say this, nor nodded she that?  -- But you were not there;  and the words we wished to say but never said, are like the small souls of infants who perished at birth;  and cannot be reclaimed, from their tiny unmarked graves.]


Again a lift, a lilt, as another floor is passed without isssue or incident -- passed-by, like opportunities;  passed over, like disinherited heirs.   He means to speak, but his lips are soundless.  She leans as though to gesture -- but stays her hand, sinking back like a river into its bed.
Meanwhile, unperceived, impassive, the world turns.

At last, the lift arrives at the last floor but one (the last  his own):  the very floor she had selected, when first presented with a panel of enticing choices…
The lit cage eases to a stop.  The doors, as fatefully as the Red Sea, part -- yet almost as though with a butlerish bow, to allow the lady to step off.  With a hesitant step, she moves to leave;  half out, half-turns, and forms a word -- but then says nothing.  And yet, for a moment, stands still amid the doorway, as he suddenly hies his hand;  and then, alarmed, alight, cries out:

Ah, lady!  Companion
for but a brief step up the rising path.
What then of PEGASUS --
Pegasus, pining and pawing the ground?
What of Pegasus, the white-winged,
gold-girt steed ??
Whereon, upon what fodder
can he feed ????

Then over her shoulder, not unkindly, yet ever more faintly as she withdraws and disappears:

Upon grass, sir;
Upon God’s  green  grass.

The doors close for the final time  upon their remembered co-presence;  and the lift resumes for the home-stretch, with a shudder  and something of a sigh.  And never again in this life, did those two ever meet.

[And at that, the Recording Angel writes finis to the page, and turns  another leaf.]

Monday, February 18, 2019

Mutual-friend Mini-monostich

Lightwood   laughed

and passed  the wine

[ -- Charles Dickens, Our Mutual Friend (1864-5), ch. 12

Sunday, February 17, 2019

Amethyst monostich

A rather mixed bag, Sister commented,
narrowing her
    =>  amethyst eyes <=

[--Mary McCarthy, The Group (1963) ]

Monday, February 11, 2019


Curtains stirred
behind the dusty pane
of an upper-story window
as a hand withdrew from sight.

-- Eric Hansen, Motoring with Mohammed (1991), p. 97

Tuesday, February 5, 2019

Resurgence (pre-Spring)

drooping  branchlets     dotted
with  unbroken buds,
having survived the blight
to greet
another year . . .

[ -- John Updike, Couples (1968)]

Sunday, February 3, 2019

uaelbaT Tableau

the lake,  where a swan


arm in arm  with its reflection

[--Vladimir Nabokov, Invitation to a Beheading (1959)]

(For more on the poetry of mirrors, try this:

Saturday, February 2, 2019

U Rule, Phil

For a week  we have been shuddering beneath a Polar Vortex, which had somehow wandered so far south of its normal and proper ambit, it was as though you looked out your kitchen window and saw a Polar Bear.   Word on the street is  that the errant Vortex  is packing its bags  and heading back home. The morning mercury is revisiting double digits, though only barely. And now, on this glorious Groundhog Day, word comes from an unimpeachable and furry source, that Spring is just around the corner.
In honor of the triumphant annual return of Philippe de Punxsutawney (to give him his ancestral name), on today’s most joyous occasion, we offer a link to our musings on these lovable though chunky marmots: