Wednesday, October 22

Autumn Back

I TOLD MY MOTHER about a salad I made and then she wrote me, asking for the recipe. It was delicious and colourful – ‘You have to do it in a certain order, though. You have to let it sit for a while so that all the juices come out and the red onion has a chance to sweeten. I bought the ingredients from a greengrocer’s around the corner where children were playing in the street, shouting and hissing in the last light. The greengrocer spoke to us from behind a waxed moustache and his words were foreign and quiet – ‘OK,’ he kept saying – ‘OK . . . OK?’
‘OK,’ we answered, without having the faintest idea what he was asking.
We had just come back from a walk around Victoria Park. Between the shadows of the trees a small greyhound stood. In its mouth was a grey squirrel. The squirrel twitched its small legs. The hound’s eyes were big dark wet looking at its owners – horrified by the side – and around at the park. The squirrel twitched. Its legs were picking at something in the air. The dog put the squirrel on the floor; its fur shone from the saliva and indents covered its torso; there was a small bit of life left but it would not move. The greyhound carried it farther, dropped it and the squirrel didn’t move again.
In the morning it is cold when I wake up.
In the evening it is cold when I go to sleep.
Before a hurricane died over the Tiber, it threw rain at me sideways. I worked late (furious, unrelenting work! exhausting, nothing left but I small portion, just enough to get by on; panicking and getting a little mad for it because there aren’t enough hours between leaving work and returning to work) and when I went out on the street I could smell – that smell of cold – a roast dinner, all gravy the trimmings, detectable even in the smoggy London streets, ebbing out the doorway of some nearby pub and causing the crazy and sober to salivate blindly. The hurricane rain takes ages to dry. It is there for hours, shade or shine. One must be careful during a brisk walk not to slip over on the fallen leaves that are cluttering the pavement. All the different types of fallen leaves! Some are noisy and some are silent; some slippery and others crumble beneath your heel; some are colourful, and some are so dull that one could not imagine them ever being part of a living thing.
I am lowering the blinds but struggling. We have ways of heating the house. She is pawing at my jeans while I lower the thin metal blinds. She puts me in her mouth and sucks me down her throat. I try to complete my task but she is sucking harder and harder and I am disappearing into her. I will go loony before long. Without the slightest detachment nor loosening, I fall – legs twitching – to the bed and moan and now I am shining from saliva and the indents over my body where her fingers have been.
This is only the start of winter.
The cannellini beans in my salad were glistening in the sweetened juice from the red onions. I turned them over and over with my fork, the colours as in a washing machine. Outside the wind blows and the trees rattle against our window. Soon the clocks will go back, and then we march for spring.

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