[A Short-short Story]
A man not so unlike any other man . . . any man who may or may not be like me . . . and I recall realizing that I was exactly like my father in every way that I was different from him . . . different from any other man who could only be like or unlike me to those who have known me well enough to tell . . . like or unlike me when I become other than who I have been to most of those I have known, familiar to them as I might be yet familiar to myself, familiar in the ways . . . what he says, how he says it, when he what?
He says: “‘Look at what he does with human form, Michelangelo,’ I said, she said nothing, she looked ahead at his Dying Slave in the Louvre a few minutes before closing one February night how many years ago I have chosen not to say.” Yes, he says this, what he says about them, about himself, about what they say that he says they say the way . . . what more do you need here? Michelangelo distends form to its limits. The next step after Michelangelo’s Mannerism is Picasso’s Cubism.
He goes on to say, “Michelangelo’s mannerism . . . I saw his cartoons, the increased lines, once more his Dying Slave at the Louvre who I trace with my eyes, and by now my memories seem nimble enough to trace new shapes, to seek and find old form. Another wall rises.”
He continues, “There we were walking across Trocadero in the flurries, and all I could do to keep from being too cold was mumble through a recitation of ‘Mirabeau Bridge’.”
They held hands. He and she.
He says, “I trace again with my eyes the outlines that form my bedroom ceiling, then tracing with my eyes the lines that run on the floor, parquet wooden slats, and then once more the lines of the cracks in the ceiling, one end to the other, a subway map of cracks. I trace her form too with my fingers, a body in form, is form, form in itself beauty running the length of her hands, her left arm, the back of her upper to the pit the times after a shower we would and I could, the stubble in her armpit, when I come I bury her name in the space between her throat and collar bone. The grave of her neck I once said . . .where did I say it, I think I said it in a story, or was it an essay, or was it one or another of those pieces that were both?”
He says, “I kiss her throat, kiss the well between the arcs of collarbone, the lines of Michelangelo, nothing so difficult, Picasso said, a line, a line, please drop me a line, does email count . . . questions come, questions go unasked . . . she dropped my camera impatiently insisting I adhere to her demands. The door to the film chamber would not close.”
He pauses. He says nothing for a count of he does not know how many beats.
He says, “‘conclusion,’ the word, comes from the Latin, conclusus, which means a wall or the wall, a stopping of the flow, like a dam in a stream. This may or may not be the end; but it has reached its conclusion. Conclusus can also mean enclosed. You see what I am driving at here, don’t you?”
He did not add that their photos in Paris were considerably shortened in number and narrowed in cropping possibilities because . . .
I do not know why he did not buy masking tape and tape the door to the camera with the zoom lens shut.