Black Satin thread emerges through a tiny hole: beginnings of a body.
Then, because I'd hit upon a small but rather intricate in its dependence on a long and busy history scene
of leaning over, falling in,
I looked across the surface of the water in the fountain as if scanning fields of fresh-dug graves, the earth piled next to every grave; all graves were open and available. This any grave
aspect is what I tried communicating with my face: a sense of terrible confinement and exhilarating freedom. Nothing to choose from, no place else to go. Everything to choose from, every place to go. I looked across the foreground of the endless sky at patterns not unlike the patterns moth wings make against a darker surface due to moonlight on their various and blending shades of white.
A figure feminine and attractive, face bewitchingly capable of the most coercive form of magnetism, I am not a terribly dark brunette. The color of my eyes is something people might not well recall. And though petite, at times I seem
Look how her —!
She's not even one little bit —!
Mine is a woman's face, though something of the child hides back behind the surface of my veering eyes.
All hallways, doorways, garden pathways narrowing behind me. Disappearing. Not forgetting.
I depart the Gallery of Art; the Public Garden, I depart that too.
Sometimes I do this all day long.
Through gates and under trellises, exquisite archways, looping round that fountain, heading back the way I came, the little bridge, not simply any female wearing anything that could be gotten anywhere.
No matter where I look...
This decorated face, this body clothed — these plainly and emphatically express the three selves of the woman: mental, physical, emotional. Descending it, the curving staircase leading to the Public Garden, or ascending it, it doesn't matter.
Yes, there is a fountain in that garden just beyond the walkway through the high symmetrical beds displaying lively contrasts: form and color, pleasing variations of particularity of movement, density, and
Exiting again, I headed home.
I saw again ahead of me both unfamiliar and familiar spaces opening up so wide I was afraid of who I had become.
Years later, under no one's representation, I presented myself to myself and recited a few audition lines that had been copied out (by me), and hired myself for a voyage. Mine was a straightforward though deeply layered story about a woman who resided within a one-room flat above a boarded-up flower shop formerly owned and managed by her hateful, ugly, old, has-been mother. For this not indefinitely extended booking I understood that I was to receive no money, and I entered a particular vicinity of the ship's deck every afternoon at the same time, with lonely eyes and empty heart, a dragonfly-embellished
turquoise body, wings worked towards the body
handkerchief in one hand, little evening bag clutched in the other, stepping forward in an apparently unintentionally cosmopolitan manner across that delightful surface whereon nothing really was and anything could be.
By concentrating primarily on acts of general watchfulness and accompanying aspects of positioning — taking sun on the deck, peering over the railing at the light's movements on the water, sifting through the baubles at the little souvenir shop near the breakfast dining room — I revised and refined my portrayal, rehearsing the execution of particularly unimportant chit-chat with elderly passengers and various upper- and lower-ranking members of the crew. And thus continued the chain of intensive practice sessions with which I would weary myself day and night that I might find myself somewhat prepared; that I, please God, might not convey to those around me evidence of jealousy, resentment, malice, desperation, anything.
's novella The House
was published by Burning Deck
in 2000; Atlassed
, a collection of stories, was published by Triple Press
in 2005; the novella "Dear Mr. Erker" appeared in the final issue of 3rd Bed
. Jane Unrue lives in Boston and teaches at Harvard University.
Life of a Star
was published by Burning Deck
, whom Gone Lawn
thanks for their kind permission to reprint this excerpt. You can find Life of a Star
and other titles at their website.