Saturday, 27 June 2009

Figurine

I kept the figurine that the stranger in the cemetery had given me and studied it with enormous interest for as I have said it was an exquisitely carved and detailed model of a male figure as bare of clothing as any greek sculpture in a prince's antiquities collec- tion, and there were parts on that tiny body that I had never yet seen except on a child. When I first looked at it, it was reclining in a pose like that of the dying Gaul, head bowed and sub- missive, but later I found that I must have been mistaken and discovered the figure was in fact standing in a proud attitude. I placed it on the sill of my bedroom window that first night and fell asleep watching his silhouette, a seven inch shadow against the dull glimmer of the street lamps. But the following morning, to my utter astonishment, it had taken a seated aspect, and indeed every time I looked at it after the passage of a period of time, the figure was differently posed, now marching, now prone, now seated, now bending over and plucking an invisible harvest, now reaching for the sky. Never once did it repeat a pose and I kept it for more than a decade. I never once saw it move, and I tried to twist and bend its brazen limbs in my childish fingers without any effect. It was a solid compact of metal, immoveable and lifeless, but I came to think of it as alive, with a soul or a spirit imprisoned in metal as long as I beheld him, but free to clamber and run and dance in his immodest fashion whenever my eyes were turned or my attention elsewhere. I dared not show this miracle to my uncle or Madame Boucher, or even to Marie-Thérèse or any other soul, convinced they would take it from me because of his nakedness, and the lustful leer that looked out of his miniature visage. He was a disturbing guest, but my guest nonetheless, and I wondered about the strange man who had given him to me, and the meaning of it.

It occured to me then that the world is a changeable and variable place, its houses and roads and churches and bridges are in constant, fluid motion, but that we are deceived by their form and fail to see they are different each moment, like the waters of the Seine flowing endlessly within its banks beneath the Pont Neuf. So I began to observe the people around me, and paid regard to their variable humours and mercurial dispositions, of Marie-Thérèse particularly, as I came to know her so well, who seemed a different person from month to month, with new interests and passions each season. And with the help of that mute, metallic and miniature teacher, I began to notice the changes to my own person and body, and fancied that the Yolande of yesterday was not the Yolande of today, and these transformations, profound as they were becoming, were nonetheless unnoticeable from day to day as long as my attention slept.

If this creature of metal were alive, it never gave any indication that he could see or hear me, though I often addressed him in private and confessed to him my most secret thoughts and reflections upon the day's events. He lived in my pocket, or at my windowsill, or upon a shelf behind a book when, as I attained maturity, he grew increasingly lewd and priapic, and I could not bear to look at him. He seemed less a guest and more an emblem of my own sinful desire and guilty soul or partner to wicked thoughts that sometimes found their way into my foolish head. Much later I learned what he was and the evil he did me, but that tale must wait until I have recounted more of the man from whom I had him.

6 comments:

Osprey said...

Ah, another intriguing chapter!

Enjah said...

O Pan!

HeadBurro Antfarm said...

Ye gods! I was so happy you had this wee statue until the last few lines - what devilment has someone slipped you? And what damage has been done as you opened your sould to this cuckoo? My horns are tingling again - that's not happened for many a month now...

By the way, "mercurial" is how i described Enjah only yesterday :)

Osprey said...

/me dusts the bookcase and polishes the wood. "It looks like it might rain so I won't open the window... well, just for a minute. It's so stuffy in here!"

HeadBurro Antfarm said...

/me comes in and quietly sets up the decks and lights and starts unpacking the beer and spirits for the bar... gonna be a comment party here real folks.

Osprey said...

/me opens the french doors into the little walled garden. A cobweb glints, its weaver drowsing in the sunlight. The scents of rosemary and lavender dance together on a spiraling breeze.