Monday, April 29, 2013

Fiction #43: Frank Candeloro


Her Only Answer Was a Kiss

The following is excerpted from a series of interviews conducted with B. Morales Forma in November of last year, in preparation for my forthcoming biography of Anna: Pharaoh’s Priest and Concubine: The Early Years.

On Anna, every day:

“Picture a street reflected in a mirror. Over your shoulder you see somebody wave. But when you turn around, there’s no one there. That was Anna. Every day.”

On first meeting, and loving, Anna:

"There is nowhere to begin with her: a mirror, a joke, a whisper, caress. Our first kiss:

"You know, I've waited a long time for this," I said.

"Yes," she answered, as if it were a question. As if I were a question. And her only answer was a kiss.”

On Anna’s beauty:

“It was the death of her, really. A cross. Or a crown. Both. But she couldn’t see the thorns. She felt them, though, surely, only she didn’t know where the pain was coming from. Beauty makes some of us worship, some of us suffer. I worshipped and suffered. She just suffered.”

On Anna’s face:

“My God. It was enough to make you believe. Her face was almost frightening in its fragility. Yes, fragile; only one didn’t realize it at first. But eventually, it kept me awake at night: the thought that it would end someday, this miracle, this porcelain blaze. I remember being half asleep and wanting to die before she grew old. I’m not kidding, though it sounds completely ridiculous now.”

On Anna’s work:

“She was always writing. In bed, the tub, at meals, while watching tv. And if she wasn’t physically writing, she was always thinking about it. More than once she’d leave me in bed, in the middle, you know, to write something down. I wanted to kill her. And I would’ve, had I not loved her so. And had it not been all so brilliant. All those words. And of course it was flattering, for it was all about us, me and her, in history and the future. Mythical fragments, detailing our past lives: Pharaoh's priest and concubine; Nero's rod and sword; sister-lovers in a Bavarian convent, engorging on spirit and flesh: The Word incarnate. Or prophecies of our part in humanity's destiny - the warrior and mother, the shield and sword, the fire and water. No names or places, just the blind pangs of birth and orgasm, blood and fire, spirit and history.”

On Anna’s leaving and essence:

“She’d moved in the previous summer, when her lease was up. She was broke, of course, but neither of us spoke of that, or those things. But anyway, just as she appeared, suddenly, completely filling my life, she was gone, leaving me empty. And angry. But, in retrospect, liberated too.

I knew she wouldn’t be mine forever. How could she? She belonged to the world, or was it the word? I don’t know, but either way, it wasn’t me, or her for that matter. Something far beyond and greater than two people in love.

You’ve read all the books, of course, that’s why you’re here, so you know this. Its all second-hand Anna, but for me, who perhaps knew her best during her formative years, when she was developing her ideas, style, soul and fire, if you will, there was always something missing from her writing, something she was never able to quite put into words.

Her being, essence, to me, was most fully expressed in her kiss, not her words. She was the courtesan, the Venus, the muse who drew herself, not waiting or wanting to pose for any Old Master. But there’s always a blind spot in every self-portrait, every mirror, a desire we chase, completion. And that’s what killed her in the end. But it was there in her kiss, a kiss like a street reflected in a mirror.

Imagine you’re looking in the mirror, trying to see yourself, really see yourself, for the first time maybe, when you were a child let’s say, past your eyes and face and into your soul. And the harder you look, the more it eludes you, and you’re scared, afraid there’s nothing there. But then you see something moving over your shoulder, in the street reflected in the mirror. Its somebody waving at you. A friend. You turn and look and there’s no one there. But you feel like it was a friend. And the fear is gone. You’re empty, but not afraid. That was Anna. Every time. Every day. That was Anna. A kiss.”

*

Frank Candeloro is a teacher in Belleville, Ontario. This is his first publication. 

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