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Sunday, May 14, 2006

Here's most of I am not who I think I am or is it whom, just published in The Anemone Sidecar (comments from a reader/writer below -- "like Diane Williams on crack").


By Carol Novack

Naturally, I was eventually banished from the breakfast table. When I appeared, to my surprise as gender female – as was my custom -- I was wearing, no doubt, a blank table of a visage, attempting exclamation points, but unable to even set it; could not find the proper tools to pas de deux lightly with the butter not margarine, no Better Than Butter and so on, perhaps blueberry jam or butternut squash, having lost all sense of grammatical decorum.

I was seemingly a sloth to he, the inspector, my mari, who expected everything in its place, I mean to him; yet he unexpectedly turned patient and even registered modest alarm. It was endearing that he cared somewhat that I might have lost something -- that was apparent. He asked what is it, Madeleine? but my tongue was shaking. I think I referred to “everything their in places,” which was a double faux pas, though in truth, I couldn’t even have spelled “faux pas!” I just kept on saying something that sounded like phoo pa. And I had so wanted to pronounce it according to Parisian French, but then emerged in my muddied mind’s eye the natives of Martinique overwhelmed by colonists, and all sorts of patois and langitudinal nightmares of English, as well, and I kept on thinking without any point. Clearly, the horse had no saddle. Yes, I was thinking of my mother, ma mere, long dead, I think it’s true, but I didn’t realize it at the time, as or since I had no objects in mind, as I’ve attempted to point out ever since, as I’d always wanted to point out: ever since nativity, I’ve been lusting for the point. And I was famished. I desired a muffin, but there was or were none in sight even amongst the bagels in the bread basket. I wanted the muffin man, not the bucket under the mare to go with the Better Than Butter.

I may even have wanted the memory or mammary land of my mother had I even possessed a sense of ownership, but I sank and elapsed; the futile body moved outside the interior, outside the interior awaited The Muffin Man truck, meant to alight on the corner where I whoever grew up, no, had grown up, but I was truth at a loss to recall where I was, where in the syntax of the global map or even the county diagram. I expected the truck, but it wasn’t coming that day, the postmistress said, clicking her tongue. Maybe I was abed. Was it my fault? Undoubtedly, without doubt, I was delirious wanting so to be carried away . . .

In mid-afternoon, spent of desire and despair and without metaphors in which to take modest comfort, I lay in his arms, I think his arms, perhaps more than he, not seeing his hands open palms seeking out mine, it was hard to tell -- he could have been dreaming of her: Isabella, perhaps. There could have been many of us there. At some point, I imagined Harold. I lay in his arms, awake in a dream without discernable forms. Intimacy was my only way back to language or vice versa, but it was a slippery concept. I could not find you, your flesh was remote under the feathers of a thousand ducks, could not speak to be heard and when I did or tried, as I’ve said, I I I I went on and on, so in time nobody listened, not even, especially he or him; well, he didn’t listen and in time nobody else did. So Reginald slapped me as though or as if I were no was a wasp about to enter his ear; I was a wasp, he was asleep; no fault.

The two of them arrived at dinner time, some dinner time, no time unannounced. Here was Uncle, with his ermine coat and peacock on Zirconium leash, oh Uncle was is he is always so gaudy and gauche, had been from infancy with his arched eyebrows, as if he were is always on the point of bringing the house down with one blow of his wickedly forked tongue but with witty elegance or elegant wit, I can’t recall which.
And she, Auntie the Fifth, in tender baby pink with white bunny slippers, she Ich Ich with her suffocating Shalimar perfume that makes me swoon sick, her with the pointless adjectives all in a row: darling lovely enchanting charming pretty dainty adorable meaningful merry interesting. Would go on go on about Burberry bonbons, love my bonbons, do you not, she would not ask giddily to nobody in particular, but in a throaty staccato, in her cups or into her cups, size 40 something triple EEE like monsignor’s shoes; what a pair, she would whisper endearments; she would coo to the petulant peacock as it crapped on my dear one’s great-great grandfather’s burgundy and teal prayer rug. Monsignor and Auntie 5 would quaff Chardonnay, ceaselessly Chardonnay from southern somewhere I could not tell and did not care.

It appeared that I would have to entertain, attempting not to talk for fear of not being able to stop myself, pouring wine without any conception of the table on which the cups were resting, no regard or recognition of place could I have or have had. My hands trembled, thinking of turkeys. I could not go on like a venerable clarinet with cracked cork under its keys, made tinny sounds. Reginald took me away, as the essential guests were horrified so much -- she clasped the peacock to her bosom and it bit her lip. Drops of blood fell into the Chardonnay. Whoopsy, I screamed, without a voice, as he dragged me up the Spiral Staircase. I thought I heard Uncle refer to “poor Madeleine’s detention in the death camp,” but was it death or deaf?

I lay in bed for months or years, time slipping by like correction officers, slipping by without any noticeable breaks or even temperate pauses -- face it, I I I I was or were a mess in a cell of my own, but not of my construction for I could not of course, effect anything, you understand, under the circumstances, the ill fortune of my aphasic affect. Gradually, parts of speech came back to me like letters rising to the surface in alphabet soup, when one stirs, and I could distinguish sun from moon, gin from cognac. I started to decipher Reginald from Harold and I from I, a tooth from a tooth, my face from Isabella’s. But whatever it was or were could never ever have been the same and they are all so suspicious, it’s tiresome, they are.

The other day, at dinner, I took a stab at the origin of peas, opening: “Dearest, have you ever wondered how peas came to be?” “Now, now, dearest,” don’t strain yourself, Reginald replied or rather not, with his fork poised. That’s what he says to me these days; yes, I would like to carve Madeleine into his torso with the sterling silver butter knife, perhaps I have or will . . .

Take me, no no -- transport me. My papers are attached, with footnotes, headnotes, supras, infras, antes, and posts, all sources clear, clear to go, in their proper places. See, I must go, have this growing fear, no no, a chronic anxiety I will walk outside my house in sleep, as usual, not know where I am, may wander about and turn up under a stone --

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