When contemplative silence settles among the wooden desks, among the aging ochre pages, thoughts tingle, thighs shuffle and silently, galaxies within the empty space of O’s swim in circles.
Walled within three barren slabs of diffidence, but with back exposed, she tilts her head at a studious angle, draped in wild hair harangued, then negotiated into X’s of bobby pins like slanted crosses. Her fingertips, drifting over waves of frozen text, have yet to callous like the Weaving Woman’s, a widow of the sea, a master of delicacy and attentiveness.
Waves whip the coast, and tails lash at the sky. “Only strings,” mutters the Weaving Woman, embroidering details of her life: birth, mid-age and resolution against dying. What happens when the ship doesn’t fully sink, when the line snaps but stays lodged inside? The knowing don’t speculate. “It’ll wash up,” she says, assuredly, “sure as hell along with everything.”
Within the library’s silence, my gaze lingers. She gets up, drinks from the fountain. I follow, hiding among shelves of towering ruin. She walks back intently, free from reticence, her arms dangle uncrossed, like tranquilized vines on a tree slipping out of the forest, unnoticed. She runs bare fingers through matted and ferocious hair, cuts loose the weak ties and shakes free her head. Wreckage spins and disintegrates within hurricanes forming and calming. Ancient histories resuscitate, to die within moments. Bare fingers emerge from rapture like blanched pillars, uneroded. After fastening shut the ocean, she turns and looks at me.
I, standing naked in my shameless voyeurism, droplets diving down my temple, pooling on the indifferent floor, get a sudden impulse to plunge into the water, to hide from the tempestuous stare of the shore. She recoils, gathers her things and leaves. I sit back down. My sweat dries.
The Weaving Woman bites the final thread of a pall-thin blanket, with her remaining shards of teeth, without her cloudy eyes.
*first appeared in The Broken City Magazine, Summer 2014.
- Short break update
- The Weighting Game (Part 2)