But still there is a certain impact in the hushed precision of the features,
 the juxtaposition of crescents ( eyebrows, curve of the cheekbones )
and ovals (global structure of the face, the eyes).
The combination of these two geometries forms the lips,
 which the young man in particular notices in the photograph and the quality of her beauty,
almost unbearably concrete.
 It is a face that had been admired by many critics.
The young man looks at it as often as he passes the circle of the silver frame,
for it is the girl in the photograph whom he often dreams of when making love to the older woman.

Yet he has a side that is expressed not by the vagina or by crass gold.
 He has no name for it, the secret fascination he experienced now and then,
when he was presented with the situation beguiling that side's resonance
and causing his intimate being to relish the irresistible thing, of no value
 and no association with crude violence.
 He hides his embarrassment from everyone.
 But he has confided in the older woman, because in spite of his arrogance
and his condescension to her fear of loneliness he knows she has, because of her fame,
 a certain understanding of the eccentricities of children.
 He like toys.
All kinds, that simply stood there to be admired or that sped on the floor on wheels
or treads or robot-feet, or cruised the swimming pool or flew in the air ;
sometimes it was the model of a castle with drawbridges or a set of marbles 
of crystal quality with miniatures restrained within the glass, of a dancing harlequin
or bird in flight or fish, or the Eiffel Tower, or then he would stare at a time-glass
watching the grains of sand drop through the neck and wonder of the emptiness
that was left in one globe and the fullness that was left in the other
 and he would start the event over again and wonder over again,
at his silly simple surprise that he could not explain and merely gestures at,
until he had the next toy to which he would surrender his imagination
 with all the help of his eyes and ears and touch and the laughter that would tug at his throat,
all which embarrassed him and the woman left him alone at such moments,
merely loving him with one glance before she closed the door.

There was the day when she presented him with a large box very elaborately wrapped
with paper in which were the designs of circles, large and small, some mere points
or dots of color, and with the same flower over and over again, and tied with a large bow
of almost skin-like pliability , which he tugged at and finally undid the complex knot
which she inadvertently fashioned out of her excitement with preparing the gift,
for her fingers were still nimble, their grace made visible in the fluid wrinkles
 that came and went about her skin like sudden condensations and rarefactions of smoke,
 lines unattended by pain because her joints were not arthritic.

Inside the box was a model of a bull ring precise in each detail,
with the seats for the spectators, some of whom were sitting,
some standing in their excitement, and a vendor coming up and down the aisles
with a portable icebox selling beer and soda drinks, another selling candy and food,
while the bull, a great animal of extravagant musculature and maleness,
with dark testicles between his hind legs, his tail flung to the left and about to drop,
one hoof slightly ahead of the other, seemed to have  just entered the ring 
which is covered with sand, and across from him, at the diameter's end,
the matador is caught in the act of striding towards the animal,
the folded cape in his left hand, his right arm off rigidly to one side,
in an awkward pose or moment that is often seen when a motion, graceful in its entirety,
is frozen to reveal a component of the process;
his left foot is forward, his right knee is bent and the toe of the shoe is barely touching the ground,
perhaps at only a single grain of sand, but his head is held high, the bull has not yet seen him,
and the sand, except for the footprints of the man and those of the animal, is smooth,
with the capricious glitter of the fine grains .

Among the spectators there is one seems to be more tense than the others,
bent forward, his hands on the railing of the ring, the elbows locked,
his head with its mass of wavy black hair aimed at the matador,
having just turned it to that direction away from the bull, and I saw him,
his form outlined against the stars, after having thrown me the cape
and hearing the running of his footsteps stop suddenly.
I knew he would be watching, because now obviously this was his whole purpose
in luring me here or at any rate a purpose that had occurred to him once we were here,
 after having chased him through all the alleys and broken hovels of this border town,
 this Mexican ash-heap where I found him by the utter opposite of any design on my part,
 by indifferent discalculation, by the most cynical impulse of the tourist side,
to see once in a while the unpredictable dens of a pained, theatrical humanity, that is,
the hermaphroditic bars, with its plumes of lifting smoke and dwarfish licking flames 
at tacos and tortillas to feed its hungry patients, fingers glistening with saliva and chili sauce,
all night burning and graying the atmosphere with odor of ash, there, in the room,
drinking, with a thin twisted silver bracelet rested against the hairs of his pale wrist, I found him.

 He saw me, recognized me, and remembered me, has seen me before, knew who I was,
as he set his face in among the others around , haunched over the table, talking,
turning their heads this way in that way, rolling their shoulders or their eyes,
waving money to buy something, the next thing, or flirting from where he was with someone
across the room in the middle of a kiss, and of course it was dark, suffused with a dirty light
from a bulb there and a kerosene lantern with its smell of jet planes.

After his face is lost in the crowd then reappears, he seems perfectly calm
and does not seem to notice me but continues in whatever conversations
he is involved in,  in the laughing, in the grimacing, and in the striking
of poses whose sole purpose seems to be to beguile because I see full knowledge
in the eyes and face of him, a stark self-consciousness that it seems all others too notice
because they laugh at each other too, and jeer, and describe straight-out what he thinks
the others trying to do or is trying to effect by this or that tone of voice , phrase, or brave touch.

I sit at the table next to the gigolo's, with strangers who stare at me in silence
and continue their chatter while exhaling the scum of sweet-smelling smoke
and downing tequilas holding the tumbler face with his pinky finger sticking aloft
as if it were pointing a gratuitous direction away from the inertia of the Earth.

I am surprised the next moment to hear the voice of the gigolo risen higher
among his companions, and going back in time, relating the mechanical events
that dislodged him from the white room with the photograph of the young girl
whom he loves and the old woman she had no choice but to become,
and his companions looked at him with impatience, then ignored him
while he persisted in this soliloquy in a loud voice.      

               Here we go again, one of the crowd interposed.

It is true that a being can change, from perhaps what she was even before you knew her
and even when you knew to something that is different and it does happen before your eyes,
maybe you even notice, if you are up, that first time when she does something differently,
or has a look that you do not instantly recognize as a look of the person you were with a day before,
or that you slept with, but this is now something I know because I think about it, remembering,
but it happened gradually, or perhaps it happened instantly
                                                                                          – snap my finger –
                                                            like that; it's hazy.

But she was fun, you know at times I hated her
and didn't know, or understand, why I stayed with, or was with her
when at the time I could be somewhere else with my friends having fun getting drunk,
driving to the beach, or doing it somewhere with the most beautiful thing in the world,
and I did that sometimes anyway, I got lost, disappeared, and she will say,

      I don't care what you do when you're not here;
           it is no mystery, just come back to me safe.

So she will laugh, when before she would only look at me,
but then later she started almost to smile, and then she actually smiled,
and then after yet she started to laugh and laugh,
her whole face pushing her wrinkles together so her face looked like a desert full of dry river,
or stream beds, but it was contagious and she wasn't making fun of me, I just know that,
so I smiled and then laughed too, and I found, now thinking about it,
that I disappeared then less and less, and was more and more with her,
because it was, you won't understand I know, good times we had too
and she told me stories about her old times

                                            – I thought I heard them all already, but no not so –

and I really did listen this time,
sitting on the polar bear rug in front of her big white bed
while she acted on the big white bed,
walking bouncing on it like she was a light balloon made like a woman
you bought at a carnival
and saw bobbing up and down on the air over kids with cotton candy in their cheeks,
she was agile for an older person
and the glass of champagne she carried never spilled a drop
except down her throat;
she loved soft things, except for diamonds,
and we are both in the softest clothes any money could buy,
she's in a gown with diagonal line of lace closing it down the front
and with a lace collar like a queen might wear when she is alone
and wears what she wants,
and I applauded as she turned around,
both heels on the acquiescing flexibility of the bed
balancing with her arms raised up forward,
her eyes large and rounder than I have ever seen them,
round like those of a newborn infant,
fresher than its few minutes on earth,
in surprise you see I suppose at my enthusiasm with her acting,
for she blows me a kiss,
her part in a film she once did, I forget the name,
it was all done silent but she added words,
and she really beamed when I clapped,
                                                             O, darling, she says, O, baby, you mean it?
                                                                                Me, an old funny lady,
and I got upon my knees
and blew across the footlights to her,
                                                            my Bravos, bravo, bravo,
and she laughed
you know out of the happiness, and joy,
that had been building in her,
I swear she was shining up there on the bed, looking beautiful I mean,
and I don't mean looking years younger
but looking as she was
and looking like all the world should be on their knees to her,
out of the fun of watching her;
and also she told me stories about her past, new things to me,
about the great times she had, acting it out too,
sometimes taking all the parts of those involved, the actors, the directors,
the script girl, the waiter, a lover here and there,
when she was 19, 25, 30, 60, and the thing about each one,
as if  he was there at the moment with her that delighted,
the one had this certain way of looking, with his eyes a little wrinkled
when he liked something, this one had a certain way of holding her waist,
                                                                             you know lightly
but with such a pressure she felt like a wonderful bird in his arms
and yielded all her softness to him;
here she was really touched again and as she was telling me these things about him,
and her, some tears rolled over the smile that this memory of happiness
so easily provoked and she said his name, forgetting I was there.

                                         If I could have my name said like that by someone sometime!

But no jealousy came to my mind, while I listened and watched her,
with her arms crossed on front of her body and her palms so her waist,
rising up on that cloud that her bed imitated so well ,
she had her face up toward the really gaudy chandelier
that winked in the hundreds of glass lusters it was made of,
shaking a little and you could hear the rustle of the glass,
because a window was open which let a breeze in from the garden below,
with the smell of the sprinkled lawn and flowers,
each luster trembling slightly and sparking,
with her head bent back all her wrinkles seemed gone
and she began to recite the names of people she had known,
and places I think she had loved,
and strings of foreign names eventually crowded in with the familiar,
so it became unclear with me which were people and which were places,
so when she talked of loving this or that,
was she engrossed in the charm of a man or was it a château,
a lake, a snow slope, the view from some mountain top,
a beach in the Caribbean,
or, again, the laughter she remembered in the young knowledge of his touch,
the muscle of his glance,
those days, those seconds of long ago which seemed would never end?

And as she acted, the diamonds in her earrings and the grand diamond on her finger
shook again and again, glancing her face with jittery fire, smoothing her skin,
and puncturing her words with their dazzle,
                                                                     I must have just stared.

It seemed as though she were in the center of some deep ecstasy,
of some deep kind of happiness, a private thing belonging to her alone,
and for a moment I felt this fear, or dread,
because this happiness of hers seemed to place her in another world
far away from where we were, something alien.
Her distant, flawless isolation.
It was as though now she needed no one.
Her smile -a smile smiling to itself, a mirage in a mirror, an image on a surface,
intensely affecting yet intangible as smoke in a dream.
                                                                                 Or was it awe that I felt?
An intimation of mystery, like glimpses of a pagan idol
through a rotted veil, buried in the fungal gloom of a temple,
smiling in a silence long ago crumbled to dust;
a knowing grin coagulated in silver.

She turned around, her arms upraised.
From her three diamonds, facets of light cut the room with a grid of beams;
crisscrossing beams shot from the mirrors on the walls, on the dresser,
the lusters of the chandelier.
Perhaps it was all in my mind, because of the champagne,
but it once I became aware of the peculiar situation,
that in the room Penny and I were measured, defined, and calculated in every way
and angle, standing or sitting, silent or laughing, our faces frozen in each glittering beat of time,
as on a system of precise coordinates which became visible to me, for a moment.

In her locked bliss ( moaning, with a smile on her lips ) , Penny, pirouetting on the bed,
rose on unseen tiptoes.
Her feeling was contagious.
I poured another glass of champagne and, irresistibly, danced through the room,
turning, winking from one mirror to another, kicking up my heels;
and singing, and gulping in the faraway air of the sprinkled lawn.
The chandelier above us tinkled.
Then I stopped. I heard her voice behind me.

      O, you'll never know, Darling, she is saying. You'll never know it all.

                What wouldn't I know? I ask. What do you mean?

      There are some in this world - she spreads are arms - who think I am a goddess.
      A man prayed to me - there, on the rug. He lit incense. Sends me boxes of chocolate.

So I knelt, touching my forehead to the floor towards her,
mouthing senseless, obsequious words, mere fawning sounds
I loosened in her direction.

                    But it's true, Darling, she says. Every word of it.

I look at her. But who can tell truly what someone thinks or means,
whether it is mere fine acting or the sincerity of a moment's delusion,
to be replaced by the next.
The white wall behind her, and all around us, reminds me of a motion picture screen.
I admit that I am curious.
And, suddenly the fear of a few moments ago returns to me,
coiling in my chest against my sternum.
                O, yes, indeed,O, yes - the ageless, smiling lips of the old woman,
                                                    as in the photograph of the girl on the grand piano,
                                                    its round framed tilted on the oil-black surface .

                Still does. Thinks I am a goddess.

                I urge her to explain what she means.

               You know that is impossible, she answers. 

Into the ice bucket she twirls the champagne.
I scurry to her on my knees, arms rigidly extended with my empty glass,
and she stoops from the bed to pour.
The pink liquid, tumbling erratically washes mass into the sheer crystal.
It bubbles in my hands. 

How long we continued like this, drinking and carrying on, I don't know.  

Penny dismissed the growing tremor in her body.

              When you first get to Heaven, she explains, There's dirt left from this world still in you,
                                   so you get little earthquakes shaking it off.

             My face is raised to hers, asking, Are you in Heaven, Penny?

And she places her hand on my head.

            She strokes my hair, her lips
                                         forming the words, O, yes, Baby.

Sometime before the sun came up, I must have fallen asleep.
I remember the bed and then the floor. At least once, she went out on the balcony,
over the tulip garden, and I heard her talking, maybe to me.
I remember the good fresh air and the deep smell of the lawn.
I can still hear the turning sprinklers, the fingering streams of water
inundating the grass; and somewhere above the trees, probably the sky.

We had drunk a lot and when she returned - how long was she gone? -
for all I know I too was in Heaven.
I was all eyes, my head felt numb, the back of my neck tingled,
and too quickly - a fraction of a second - everything stood glittering,
details became jewels.
Then it was gone.
I was left again in the normal process.
My cheek lay against the white rug, my fingers exhausted on the fang of the polar bear
whose round glass eye compelled me to watch her
                ( I could not seem to close my own ).
Penny ate one more of the chocolates we had been nibbling on all night.
That's all I remember.

That is the last thing I remember, but everything gets confused then;
I may have had a dream.
I see images, hear sounds, and black mingles with white.
I see myself rising, going to her. We have had many similar nights, or days.
I am not certain which one this was and some of the things I remember
I am am sure they were real, they really happened, I think they had to happen,
but then if I closed my eyes, she was alone and therefore very far away from me,
though still she must have been in the room, with the white bed, and the mirrors,
and the chandelier far above us, she might have changed into another gown.,
one looser, more comfortable for sleeping, taken off the diamonds,
and she might have sat at her dresser, with the photograph in a simple silver frame
of a very beautiful young girl tilted at a 45 degree angle to the lacquered surface,
whose quiet buoyant face looks out into the room and meets her eyes,
tired now but insistent and manic, and the fingers, whose tips are pendant with flesh,
seek out the little box, then the lozenges that help sleep, blunt oval shapes resting in silk,
and the lid to the box comes down, clicks shut.

And in the border town no one moves that moment,
postures are stuck in silence beneath the oily smoke
from the open fire and beef for tacos;
sentences that were being spoken ended,
the meaning in the context completed, and those single words
that were enough were therefore not followed by others;
for the time the superfluous was not taken advantage of,
and finalities, exclamations, and questions, expired into stillness,
like the physical movement of the patrons, or patients there,
silent but for the hiss of the pressure kerosene lantern
hanging from the ceiling by a nail twisted into a hook.
In that gap,
                                     But she was shot, I say.

The conversations resumed, he got up, turned around and looked at me,
he says something which I do not hear, and then he is out the door.
His friends barely seem to notice that he is gone.
Already, an elbow moves into the vacated space and chairs
are being shifted about to more comfortable positions, less cramped around the table.

I run after him, into dirt alleys.
Cockroaches careen across my path,
or scurry beside me on the odorous boards of the shacks.
I rush into buzzing vapors of startled mosquitoes.
Above me the jagged sky snores with stars,
my shoulders roll in almost rhythm
on both sides of my mouth now through a stench,
or now a surprised freshness of air.

From a distance ahead, behind a corner, I hear his silver bangles,
and the noise of him kicking past a can or cursing at a clothesline
strung against his way, soon where I trample on a child's white dress,
then a brassiere on the mud.
He goes through a doorway, I follow, a tunnel of some sort, total darkness,
then a door opens, slams shut hard somewhere ahead of me, then footsteps
pounding on wood,
but now I see a pale oval -
                                           the tunnel's end, outside?

I burst into starlight, and smooth and sparky ground.

Across the ring a gate opened.
The bull came out, and then stopped perfectly still,
with his head up, his eyes staring, and his 4 black hoofs that drilled in the sand.
Behind him his tail was erect.
I see his horns.
I can turn now and , though it is high, jump over the barricade
and find myself among the empty spectators' seats.
Then something drops in front of me.
A cape lies in the sand and rising as though from it,
along with the odor of sweat and animal hide, there was the gigolo's laughter.
                           Here is your chance, Cinnamon , be the matador you dream about.

One day when we were drunk and retailing our dreams, you told me yours.

                         Remember - under the acacia tree.
                                             And Penny wanted to be a nun!!

                        There's the cape, and the rest of the night to chase me.
                                          Go on, amigo. Live!

His mocking laughter meant nothing to me.
But I sensed - the moment, the cynical unrepeatable moment.
It could slide effortlessly pass me, and a sardonic grin would flicker
above me
through the old constellation of jaded stars.
I walked forward, careful of my stride; bent down,
and with a turn of my wrist took up the cape.
I perused the theatre.
With starlight in my eyes, I condescended to glance at the bull.

When I'm dying, and blood is in the inevitable wound,
and the last breath of life moans through my memories,
what will stand out above the trite adventures of chance?
The deliberate forfeiture of certainty!
The single excellent moment that is the distillation,
the hard pearl in my watery life;
perhaps even, what I remember will be a dream,
a thing that never happened,
and in that pale circle of sand
                                          the bull first lifted one foot,
then took several rigid steps towards me and charged.
The cape hung, unfurled between my hands.
Acting the classical attitude in a bullfight poster, I held my body straight,
with my head proud in a three-quarters profile to the animal,
the precise gaze of whose eyes was impossible to see;
only two starry glints on the cornea's surface,
jiggling in a sort of Brownian motion related to the uneven cadence of the animal's hoofs;
random traces against the black background of the massive neck
       – erratic like the inconstant illumination of fireflies
          which Penny watched from her balcony.

They glided in and out among the branches of the acasia tree.
In certain places they curved low over the rolling lawn,
silvering for a moment the many little streams that ran from the sprinklers
whose inverted umbrellas of water pulsed over the grass,
lifting and dropping over the dark static ground.
And somewhere between the land and trees and what must be the sky,
there appears a blot of haze,
like a blur.
Or a ripening convergence of mirages
mingled in the tropical degrees of the atmosphere,
behind which there is nothing to be seen?
Its uncertain edges shift like subconscious pulses of fear
surrounding what appears to be a visually amorphous phenomenon;
this unaccountable feeling remains there,
balanced just above the sprinklers,
in that uncertain region behind which I wonder if there are any stars.

The old woman rests both hands on the marble banister cooler than the quiet air.
Her shoulders are firm, and for a very long moment she is motionless,
while now and then the full sleeves of her gown shiver slightly,
or the hem at her feet.

A breeze catches up from the lawn,
setting a few stems of the tulips in the rigid garden
to sway and stirring some clusters of leaves in the overshadowing acacia tree,
things which after the grip of the night she notices, letting her eyes rest on them,
the invisible and the sudden,
with the weightlessness that has overcome her.

The door behind her is open.
The room is ablaze with light.
A figure, vague because of the perspective, lies recumbent on a white rug,
half his face lost in the fur, and a finger drumming on the long line of his thigh.
The mirrors of the room are empty.
Her eyes are perfectly blank.
The configuration of her lips in relation to her other features satisfies the definition of a smile,
the mouth's corners curving into the cheeks like blades into a balloon.
The man in the room behind her could only remember that smile,
and the brightness in her voice
                                               (now silent)
that spoke of Heaven and giggled its syllables of an old woman's throat,
bouncing laughter into the mirrors and vanished.  

Now, because of a bit of wind,
a strand of her hair somewhat stiffly brushes in front of her eyes,
entangles in the precise series of her lashes and is daubed with color;
tries to twist against her forehead, hooks around her nose,
strains along the contour of her cheek,
and then escapes at last,
it vibrates in a long, too blond and oily curve
in the warm stream of that accidental uplifting of air.

Slowly she turns her head to the left and her gaze pauses over the top of the acacia tree,
remains there for an indeterminate amount of time,
her pupils dilating into the darkness
where perhaps few lights of a distant structure intrude, or the landing light of an aircraft a long way off.

But it is impossible to say whether she sees this and in fact there may be no such lights
in the distance,
only the unwavering empty blackness of night, because there is nothing else, and finally she lowers her gaze, now accustomed to darkness, her pupils expanded to a limit, finds the surface of the lawn
and she registers perhaps surprise at the glistening streams of water,
then calculates,
that's what it is,
and finds her garden,
then in the all-emcompassing ash the vague tulips and their isolated dabs of color,
the almost erased yellow, almost erased blue, erased red, in with indistinguishable whispers of shapes, fractions of a curve here and there, outlines cut off, buried in the ancient evening
and an occasional movement, errant breeze.

She lingers in the faded colors,
runs her hand along a shadow,
the smooth depth of it as thin as the film of her eye,
and turns to the acacia tree and to the space
under the branches and against the bark, whose roughness and galls are washed    
out under . . .                                                                            
the black sun and Penny,
as though ordered by an overwhelming force, blinks her rigid lashes,
is it day or night, night or day, remembering, structuring, forgetting.
It is, to be truthful, not possible to tell what she thinks, to go inside the face,
to travel into the mind and there to decipher what is referred to as the music of the heart,
that is, the emotions of the other abstraction that is called the soul,
for all that is seen is skin and hair and gradations of color,
and now mostly shades between black and white,
and imperfect geometric figures,
                                                 such as oval, thin cylinders, squashed parallelepipeds,
                                                 deformed cones, parts of curves,
some of these things in motion as when the breeze comes,
perhaps the most perfect surface being that of the eye,
what is seen of it,
glistening in the play of light and angle,
of sudden minute motion and moisture, a black glint,
but even the bone supposed to be merely beneath the skin surface,
a fraction of a centimeter deep, is a thing presumed,
for it is not seen,
although the contours that mold the skin surface seem to have the assistance
of some unaccountable support, hinting at a kind of solidity
that soon becomes problematical when her finger,
in an oblique back and forth movement across the right cheek,
seems to sink into the surface,
so the face should just as well be sustained by air
under a reasonable pressure,
which could explain the tightness in the eye,
the perfect ball of transparent film slowly glistening,
then becoming dull on the dry wind.

She smiles an absent smile, meant for no one,
at the empty space beneath the leaves of the tree
into which she stares and her face, big as a world, cratered as a world,
an old woman's face,
fatigued, tired of stairs, trembling slightly,
can not lose the smile that grips it,
the lips stuck
into the face by its curled sharp contour.  

I feel pity for her, and sadness, and in spite of that smile
that seems to bore beyond the presence of things,
seems to smile at a private world,
I feel the crumbling ruin of melancholy.
An image quickly flies before me.
A landscape and a few trees, a single gigantic column fluted with wild vines,
its capital moldy with dust upon which a haze of the smallest flowers lifts,
and in the sky,
in a distance white with remoteness
I glimpse the etched wings of a bird;
                                                       this all in a flash, and gone.
The smile is meant for no one.
She stares into a vacant space under the leaves,
between the shadowed bark of the tree and the of course silent tulips
in the darkened garden.
The boundary of the space touches the bark and the grass,
seals in the emptiness,
whose only possible description is the mathematical
one of the 3 coordinates of space
                                                      ( x, y, and z axes of the void ).
There is no factor of time necessary,
because here nothing changes.
The past, unlike the surface of a mirror, remains timeless.

Her lips seem to cramp.
She mumbles.
Or laughs.
This seems devoid of any meaning, something a bad, or a bored, actress
may accidentally produce when she has lost interest in the performance,
or lost control.
Her fingers tremble.

The silvery object in her hand lies at her side.
Finally, she raises it slowly and rests its against her lower lip,
opening her mouth slightly, her eyes deep upon the lawn below.
The sun is blazing.
The tulips stand out, stark and brilliant, on the fragmented lines of their long stems.
Each bulb is a shape established in the interplay of light rays.
Texture is perceived.                                                             
The hues of the simple surface are carried out on the frequencies of the rays,
to the floating dust and into the grass;
to the rough bark of the acacia tree, to distort and reblend there,
and into the eyes of the young woman who is standing in the shade.
Her right knee is slightly bent,
the foot inclined with the toes almost lambent, not trampling the grass.

She is looking neither to the left nor to the right,
not up or down,
and seems to be consumed in the study of a horizontal perspective
that continues indefinitely into the distant haze,
and her eyes seem to strain.
Her pupils contract.
Perhaps, because of the intensity of light coming from that direction.
She remains this way, her back straight, her arms at her sides,
the right arm seemingly more tensed than the left
as though it held a weight the influence of which is not decipherable
in her countenance
which is of the oval-shaped variety,
with the lips, nose, and eyes of a statue from classical times
whose proportions have been critically acclaimed and copied in depictions of the beautiful.
The eyes were once painted with color.

The eyes are blank.
The hair is frozen.
Around her the limits of the extensive lawn can not be seen.
The grass is woven tightly.
Its blades surrounding her feet seem too sharp, crowding around her in multitudes.
Yet her movement within this atmosphere is without the least trace of panic.
She has bend her head, unhurriedly lowering her eyes, her face remaining expressionless,
and now the boundary between the sunlit lawn and the tree's shadow
must come within the field of her vision;
the shadow trembling slightly,
opening into patches of light and blur,
because the leaves twist, the crooked branches yaw. 

The light she sees surrounding her has an austere quality,
almost a chill that fills the vast hall of the air with a sterile,
merely mathematical incandescence.
As the light on a leafless plain;
the light in a monk's cell on a page of forgotten symbols.

Her forehead is smooth.
She can not complain that she lacks attractiveness,
or fame, or wealth,
and yet the air, in that huge expanse of property seems to choke her,
and she breathes as if resigned to a last stage of drowning.
The leaves over her rustle.
The shadow in the grass expands, flattens on the blades.     

                                                                                       Hasn't her every wish been fulfilled?

She has looked up, she has turned her head.
Her features have not changed. The blank eyes, the quiet lips.
She is standing by the bark of the tree, away from the symmetrical bulbs
 of the tulips in perfect rows;
she in the shade, the flowers in the dry almost perpendicular light which smothers the colors.
Her right knee slightly bent, the toe not trampling the grass.
And in the distance in what appears to be a mountain there comes a sparkle, comes, goes,
a signal perhaps, which can have no meaning to her who stands in a simple dress, her neck exposed,
both arms straight at her sides;
now she is not smiling.

All the expression in her face seems to have gone.
Only the surface remains, the curves, lines, the angles between these,
and the geometric relations
that bind these into a recognizable countenance.
The figure seems integral to the landscape
which the eyes of the woman see.
The right shoulder is slightly lower than the left.
The air is papery.
Smoothly her right hand comes up towards her chin.
She parts her lips and touches her lower teeth lightly with the barrel.
Her eyes are blank. Her breathing is imperceptible, and in her face,
although abstracted, a softening appears, probably related to nostalgia,  
a moment remembered;
her finger administering the final application of pressure in her life,
and in the pistol, caliber .38 , the silverplated cylinder turns lethargically .

While a gleam runs along the horns of the moonlit bull.
I hold the cape steady. My feet rests squarely on the sand, in a classic matador' s pose.
Everything depends on the balance of the fingers and the turn of the wrists.
Control, as by a escapement, must be exact, with split-second smoothness
unbothered by the proximity of death.
I await the rushing encounter.
Rolling mountain-shoulders, it comes up, this massive blackness, distended nostrils,
with lips blowing on the air garlands of saliva upon which the moonlight sticks
and mixes with sand buffeted up in the cloven hoofs.
While I can go nowhere.
To turn' s fatal now.
But why didn't I run?
No time now.
Just a style now - a poster remembered - holds me to the spot. 

Legs straight, stomach in, my temples moist.
No sudden angle of knee, or retreat of the body, to evade the horn.
When the animal ( the horn first, or snout? ) touches the cape, I feel a galvanic surprise.
The gnarled mass passes me, then the rump seems tremendous.
And I am alive!
The tail whisks through the darkness.
I am alive. Free.
My mind is a gas that cannot be contained - I fly.
The air is soft as the air in dreams.

Then the animal turned right, facing me again.
Horns up high, it paws the ground once or twice,
disturbing the particles laid in concentric circles of sand making up the ring;
the bull, as though in a feminine frustration, scattered with thrusting hoofs the order,
touching the ground with the imprint and malice of chance
which is the voracious termite of the world's solidity.
And it lowered its head, lost in darkness but for the 2 great bones   
that pricked the moonlighted air
and stirred the fragrance of the bull's mass into my nostrils.

Again it misses me.
I imitated at veronica, twisting it pass.
Its shoulder brushed my chest.
Then it turns, seems imitated with that position, and turns again and again,
as if searching for a novel direction.
But it can find only left or right,
all its freedom restricted to orientations possible in a circle,
to face me or then the barricade around the ring; right again, left again.
Always it waivers against the ground.
And with every heave and muscular shift , its mass impresses me.

I begin to believe that of the things I see
               - the bull ring, the gigolo watching, the moon,
                             and certainly the stars -
it alone has weight that will tip the dial in a scale.
The rest seem nebulous, just shapes and colors drawn by chance in the fickle currents of air,
made of smoke.

But, perhaps for the briefest moment, my attention wanders.
I scan around me - the gray barricade, and just above that after a circular space,
on a tilted floor the spectators' seats, each with a view unobstructed.
Being an open ring, after the last row of seats only the sidereal sky remains,
and the moon, visible as I glance up.
I am surprised because now, apparently, I am not alone;
now a few seats are occupied, persons I had not noticed before,
nor heard their entry that I thought I should have,
because the flooring must be parched as the cloudless sky
and planks crackle on the weight of a body but there was no sound;
I heard nothing.    

There was an old woman;
almost directly behind her an old man also with silvering hair;
he stretched his right arm, as if to touch her.
I could not see faces clearly to recognize them,
in the shadows cast by distance,
and being night in spite of all the suns in the sky.

I saw only traces, parts.
A left cheek illuminated, the tip of a nose, a shoulder's curve,
a temple, then a spark perhaps from a gem, a diamond, in an earring;
the silvering hair.

Diametrically across from them was another figure, almost as vague,
darker of hair, I suppose a much younger man, whom I did not think too much about either
because he seemed an absolute stranger
or about him there was no mystery because, as I said, he was a stranger
or someone who seemed totally familiar, with upright posture,
his arms calmly at his sides, then lost in shadow.

Between him and the older couple the gigolo was leaning on the rail
circumscribing the ring, standing with one foot
propped on the ledge along the floor,
his head turned to my general direction and the bull there somewhere.

Except for the old man's one movement raising his arm,
they were all motionless and almost like mannequins abandoned there,
perhaps to dry a new painted veneer
or to acquire by exposure to this atmosphere of ash and stars
some cosmetics subtlety of skin or eye almost human.                      

I was a buoyant with dolorous excitement,
as if in a dream composed of one beautiful moment
whose passing saddens me.
And I try to forget the morning.

They do not stir.
The moonlight bounces silver on two heads,
black on the heads of three,
including me, and of course, yes, the bull who, now in frustration,
or likelier, because it wants to feel impact ripple into the dense longness of its body,
wheels around, strikes its hoofs, and dribbling saliva, tilts down its head,
with horns angled to attack, lunges itself forward,
gores the barricade, again and again,
whose wood disappears in splintered slashes blackest
where it is deep;
it wheels once, rump slamming the wall, then attacks, hooks with each horn,
creating languid slivers of wood in smooth, undoubted applications of power.

The impact seems to shake the arena,
the sandy disk which remains a constant soporific reflection of the moon,
relaxing to the eyes.

I am surprised by a pain, precise as flaming wire.
Buttons popped off.
My shirt is torn, in shreds damp and dark.
And I discover a wound obscured with blood,
from the side of my stomach to my left nipple;
I feel its trail of moisture.
Still, the pain quickly dulls, flattens to a wide ache in my skin.
My response of panic dissipates,
for I must be dead if cut serious so close to my heart
and other organs that, I have read,
were responsible for the maintenance of this life,
and even the blood appears docile in that moonlight,
sleeping on the sticky contours of my body.
I dismiss it from my mind.                                  

Blind as its tireless mass, the bull spun in tightening circles,
as muscle rubbed against twisted muscle, gouging up showers of grit,
the arena being as if a lawn and the sand sprinkles of water.
Then, suddenly, convulsive twitching seized the hind portion of his bent body
and slowing, still turning,
I saw that the animal ejaculated.

Did the others see it?
There was no indication that they were impressed by anything.
The gigolo was leaning on the railing, merely a silhouette,
an ink drop spread out to a vague shape, a man perhaps,
or a woman in man's clothes.
I could determine only, or presume rather, from the general orientation of their attitudes,
that they were looking at me and
and at me at the animal;
it seemed hard to miss.

Perhaps the gigolo moved.
                                             Across the ring I cry out, Did you kill her?

His hands, together on the railing, shine under moonlight
                                                                                       – with a pistol, dangling silvery.
                                            Merde, he answers finally.
Then silence.
 Then -
                                            And you! Did you?
                                           You were close to her, closer than anyone.
                                           She almost committed suicide …..

And an upward flick of the barrel waved the pistol in my direction.   

I think I heard him laugh,
as of one who might be drunk or intoxicated with other things;
it wafted no mockery, but expressed perhaps sheer happiness,
needing for its being no special reason or attainable thing,
and therefore in spite of my sensitive skin I do not feel ridiculed or affronted,
made fun of when I am in the position I am in;
its infectious zeal, detached from the earth like a misanthrope's happiness,
flying over the empty ring, makes me smile. 

While I remember I hunted him,
I can not forget I am standing in a bullring, under stars and moon,
in an atmosphere denser than mere air,
swimming with shadows resting on the sand
and across the seats and the splintered barricade, or, being paler than exact black,
on the ineluctable body of the bull before which I seem to have disregarded death.

I feel no guilt, no remorse, no more question about the silent spectators
who have appeared;
I feel – freedom;
for the ponderous bull, whose hoofs must sink into the sand, pity,
while I fly;
the ring itself seems buoyant, like a balloon midair, poised weightlessly.

And the gigolo's laughter lifts, goes treble from bass, up, up from my horizontal plane
it cracked and angled to a vertical plane palpitating wildly, he was doubled with laughter,
bowed over the rail,
now holding on to it,
then his body bent back and up, mouth open, choking then on the moon,
with the pistol in his hand lifted and trembled,
                                                                      he stuttered,
                                                                                                You, you, you . . . . . 

The bull charged suddenly
and I made an awkward pass.
Part of the cape tearing sailed off on a horn.

                                                                        You're lousy, cried the gigolo.
                                                                        You get shook, you thought you were good.

He went over the rail, brandishing a cape.
                                                                        You watch, he cried arrogantly. And remember!

He jumped to the top of the barricade,
then down on the ring, nearer the bull.
He strode to the center, sharply silhouetting against the luminous sand.
His leather pants and shirt seemed an impossible costume in the heat.
Knees bending, the black wrinkles of his movements glistened like oily ripples.

I panted for breath.
The air filling me with moony silver.
Then he stopped, back to me,
like an exclamation mark stabbed in the sand;
and turned his head over his shoulder.
I heard his voice.
                                                                         It was you, wasn't it?

                                                                          Perhaps, I smiled.

His face, far away, was splintered with shadows,
and possibly he saw me the same way through the same perspective,
seeing only part of a smile which I did not intend, which escaped me.
He turned away abruptly.
I stared at his back.
From the seats we must have seemed indistinguishable,
two almost identical figures, only one in front of the other,
the same height, the same rigid stance,
equally reflecting the moon light.
His hands floated softly up.
His wrists turned.
The cape unfurled to its full length, quivering a little, then fell still.                    
Then hung with a perturbing smoothness.                                                              

Looking past him, the heels of his high boots closing together,
I saw the bull had raised its head high and seemed to be watching him,
and now the two, animal and man, what can I say - stood appraising each other?

I am sure that the man endeavored to calculate the bull,
that is, to fathom it,
to empathize with it,
so feel its mood or capriciousness,
to predict how it should charge,
and of course all of this the man will attempt by thinking,
pasting little slips of thought,
like slips of paper on which memorandums are written,
on the animal's rump, hoofs, forehead, the tips of its horns,
the marbles of its eyes,
that taken altogether, crumpled together to form one wrinkled convoluted ball,
perhaps in analogy of the brain,
should signify the integrated conclusion about the bull's course of action
as its hoofs, one by one, dig and strike over the sand in a violent acceleration
that abruptly must end.

But certainly the bull does not calculate like this,
or if it does, it has the next moment now forgotten it,
but rather it had seen what it will do,
what it has already done;
its eyes, like still dice, that will begin an imperceptible roll
when one hoof lifts, then the other, and the other,
and the air begins to dilate its nostrils,
sweep the dripping saliva over its black lips,
and cool the blood in its ears.

But is it me that it sees?

There are others, spectators positioned
around the seemingly perfect circle
of the ring whose barren circumference
surrounds me.   
Beyond the barricades the seats are simple wood planks,
each row forms a circle concentric to those before it and those after,
concentric to the circles man and bull draw in the sand
                                          (the only evidence that will remain when they are gone),
and ending with the last circumscribing row of seats after which is the bluish emptiness
betokening a sky with stars and a moon pasted flat in its halo;
and round again, on the constraining planks, on the cool wood,
amid splinters bending upwards the spectators sit,
shoulders pressed into the starry black,
arms lost in the impenetrable shadow of their bodies,
figures who, to my inevitable feeling, must be intent on the proceedings in the arena,
concerned for the performer, bull or man, for they do not move,
as though enraptured.   

One of them perhaps yawned, for also it is night,
even raised her fingers to pat her half-shadowed lips,
or another has stirred, shifted in his seat, the wood is hard (I presume),
the atmosphere is soporific, air licks dry at his eyes.
The motion, the impatience, perhaps illusory, which has not occurred,
nevertheless has happened in darkness.

There is one woman;
and two men who, except that one's hair is silver like the woman's
and that they are separated by a distance consisting of discrete spaces over the planks and rows
of seats, are indistinguishable.
They partake of the same immobility,
or concentration on the arena
and the circular motions portrayed there without premeditation,
as if accidental.
There is no wind.

And even the antagonistic accelerations of animal and of man
pass in a medium that seems to soften jarring impressions of suddenness and edge;
the fury of the bull's charge becomes equivocal,
as if sliding through the viscous fluid of my eyes
rather than on the ground erupting at each hoof in staccatos of sprinkles 
never higher than the bull's knees,
at a slight angle towards the body's shadow,
the sand grains dropping softly over the pale disk of the arena.

But why must the old woman be here?
Is it to rest alone?
Under the clear sky, away from the hovels, the filthy alleys of the town?
To reminisce on cool wood some rich, inescapable memory?
Or, indeed, is it merely to yawn?
Any one of a hundred reasons seems possible,
however groundless or real or whimsical,
or no reason at all
and it is this last possibility that attracts me for, after all, it is only a shadow
that I see upright, motionless, with a hyphen of silver reflecting through her hair;
I can see nothing else and nothing else in the others,
of the old man sitting close behind her
or of the presumably younger man diametrically opposite them,
perhaps even on the same row of seats,
and, like this cylinder of the barricade and the line and circles of the plank and in the sand,
they are modeled of only light and shadow;
up around her figure arches a smooth background as of dark blue glass
in which are brilliant dots
and high above a large disk luminous like a reflection of the arena.

If she is interested in the game, I do not know;
perhaps, this very moment she is leaning forward by an amount scarcely imperceptible
to one in the ring whose eyes are drugged with moonlight,
as they would likewise be disordered if it were the sun blazing at midafternoon,
suffused with the fragrance of flowers hawked on the stands by vendors;
surely, at some point she will move one of the fingers of her hand,    
the forefinger perhaps.

The pressure of the bull's charge lifts the cape in the gigolo's hands.
In spite of his boast he finds his legs hard to control,
his feet skip as the horns plunge.
He makes one or two awkward passes.
Then he improves;
his heels dig in, and his thighs manage to stay together.
His arms stretch out languidly as if he were showing a rare silk batik,
with his wrists expertly limp,
so the bull, perhaps distracted by the hypnotic stillness of the cloth,
charges stiffly.

I begin to admire him.
Now he moves without hesitation,
strutting between encounters,
perhaps mimicking what he has witnessed in a film
or in a dream of him the matador,
with an animal too real to be in a dream,
whose hoofs, one after the other, smash into the sand;
he follows the animal, condescendingly turning his head, with eyes half-open,
and the savage rump rippling past.
He struts again, and arrogantly bows to me,
while the beast circles against the barricade,
with its neck muscles rolling and the horn splintering the wood.

At last it stops,
then faces him, after minor adjustments of orientation.
Its eyes are lost in the massive head.
A few white teeth show.
In a moment dropping, glistening ropes of saliva roll down past the black lips.
There is no wind.
There is no sound.
Stars and moon,
high up in the almost immeasurable curve of the sky,
glow and twinkle for the arena alone;
the flat disk of sand, softly luminous and intoxicating, has no peer to refract that attention.
There is no town outside the ring.
No hovels, no alleys.
All are hovels, all are alleys.

And the bull paws the ground,
just the right hoof.
It is done gingerly,
almost superciliously,
as if it were counting individual grains of sand,
as if it were mimicking the matador's delicate handling of the cape    
and mocking him.

A few white teeth show.
The delicate pawing stops and the animal stands very still, with its head raised.
Its two horns gleam
into the ashy, buttery mix of air rubbing against my eyes.

For a long moment no one moves.
The spectators are sitting, like mannequins.
Nothing moves.
It is a scene as of dolls arrayed in a playhouse,
with the moon only a dim bulb in an empty room.

Now the animal moves.
There is something very wrong.
It seems fiercer, and more sinister, than before.
The movements are the extreme of grace
                                                                - but the continuity of the motion
                                                                   is broken into fragments;
                                                                   a succession of poses
                                                                   seems to have been substituted for the single,
                                                                   fluid advance of the charge;
the legs are seen arranged
in the various positions that 4 limbs
would occupy in the involved tread of such a ponderous animal;
each pose seems anatomically complete,
even to the instantaneous placement of tensions in the major and minor muscles of the buttocks,
the flanks, the shoulders, etc.,
that are absolutely necessary to effect the movement of each limb precisely in coordination,
one after another;
the muscles appear distinctly,
sharply defined beneath the skin.

So, in a sense, there is no movement at all visible;
as if the bull were just an intricate toy set down again and again in a straight line,
after rearranging the limbs, the angle of the head,
the exact twist to the left of the tail
and as if the long black hairs of its tuft were in the grip of some rushing stream of air.

The impossible shattered motion at once fascinates,
then oppresses me.
It goes beautiful in the moonlight,
taking forever to accomplish the short distance;    
but something
                       - unexpressed, in that dampened
                                            disintegration of life -

begins to terrify me, makes my skin crawl,
like watching black, viscous slime dropping
from one flower to an innocent flower,
with a grace that is awful to behold.

And suddenly I want to cry out,
                                                              Get away! Run!
                                                              You are just a man!

but distracting him would endanger him.
I keep silent.
And the moonlight has not moved,
shadows cover the seats as before;
the spectators sit unstirring.
Then, when animal and man merge,
when the bull's massive body is thrown forward,
at that moment of frozen acceleration,
it seems to hang suspended in space,
with the back hoofs into the sand
and the forward ones extended straight;
when the great head and the man's body,
with only a corner of his cape showing between them,
together are lost
                            – it appears,
                               as first a whitish blur,
                               the thrust of horn,
  out in back,
  picks him up,
  his legs are flung straight,
  shoulders sloped down smooth with the force,
  his head snapped to his chest;
                             the horn tip appears moist
  as though it has been
  working its way for hours through his body,
                           pops out now,
  forcing the body high,
  like a thing of string and wood,
  its limbs jerking all ways, randomly.

I felt a jolt, perhaps in my chest.
It was too quick for pain.
A great vibration within me, or beyond me.
Was it my shocked, almost whisper of surprise?
I expect to hear something from the stands, if only a murmur,
and there is nothing.
It is possible that they are too far away for me to hear their words,
but there is nothing.
The moonlight seems to slur;
the sand sloping up darkens in my shadow;
the moon winds at my back;
I am dizzy, falling, and my head turns aside.

Of the spectators
only the old woman rises. 
And she remains standing, staring at something, or someone,
below her in the windless night,
with the sound of leaves rustling,
or is it the sound of water, or blood,
flowing on the ground?
It is night, but the darkness flickers.
There is a light behind her,
as if from an open door,
and, though it is a thing that puzzles me, it grows bright, soon engulfs her,
and fills the entire frame of my vision; it lasts, it lasts . . .

How long have I been here?
In this white room ,
and the nurse,
so barren like a desert.
There is an empty vase on a stand.
My sheets are stained
but the whiteness that is there, behind the stain,
seems to shine through, growing;
outside the window it is very bright,
I can not see, I am almost blinded
                                                         – yet see,
                                                            in fragments,
                                                            as in broken glass,
parts of the sidewalk across the street,
a piece of crumpled paper,
the line of the pavement,
the telephone pole,
and quickly, so quickly,
the bare leg of a girl child who has run past holding
                                                                                . . . something . . .
in her hand,
I don't remember,
so fast,
and then the lightening is striking the pole,
the crack in my vision
grows wider,
and the window becomes white, the room , everything . . . .

                                             ”It will be over before you can blink an eye,” had said the nurse.


                                                                    - finis -

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