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You made the most of your leisure, for schoolwork consumed most of your time: The competitive-exam game focused not on absolute learning, but on relative ranking, and this on a national scale. Thus, you still recall with pleasure the clubs you went to where Inès donned the vestments of Garbo’s Queen Christina while you, as Bowie’s Thin White Duke, were the incarnation of cool.
The woman in the mirror
From star to star, exhaling vapour into the vastness of the void, they hiss to a racing heartbeat: Through the night, from station to station, trains speed. Staked-out with bowline bonds, a man with raven locks lies naked on a bed, aloft in a room a thousand and one stories high. He turns his pillowed head from the window-wall to the glass-block corridor: In the bathroom, a woman in black bra and jeans stands before a mirror, her bare feet aglow in the kick-space under the counter. In successive sweeps her hands gather her hair into a ponytail; securing it, she draws it through an elastic band slipped from her fingers. A long-held din on an electric guitar takes over from the trains to stitch the stars together; ragged and dirty, it make its way through the man’s body, creeping along the byways of his nerves. Two chords, ghostly through the fog of feedback, iterate from hammered strings; following suit, bass and drums come in. In the crease of her eyelid, from inner canthus to outer, the woman applies a pearly copper; from the crease to the brow bone, pale heliodor. She straightens up and looks at her reflection. At the smoothness of her image in the mirror she smiles sardonically. Bah! Putting a hand on her hip and pulling a face, she sticks her tongue out at herself. Clean and metallic, the rattle of maracas punctuates the bass and drum. And then the voice enters, detached and steely: The return of the thin white duke, throwing darts in lovers’ eyes.
Mara Marina, Mara Miranda, they say everything pertaining to play once related to the sacred: Between us in this pantomime, Bowie mediates. Yourself as another you examine in the mirror: As blue eyes pop in a radiant face, in the space between being and seeming your imagination comes alive.
From Kether to Malkuth: From the crown to the kingdom, the first cause to the sublunar chaos, the ten names of God. With us all names are metaphoric, but not with Him. They say the whole of the Book is nothing but the Name; they say the knowable and unknowable are one.
Who will restore me to my name?
I am fossil, I am sediment,
I am compacted of altered remains;
I am hard, I am stratified,
I am metamorphosed but still the same:
Mara, consume me in your flame!
The union of body and soul is mediated by song; between deliverance and downfall the song is all: Riffing guitar and percussive piano let loose the daemon of rock. Through pierced flesh you thread the stem of a grape cluster, a silver and citrine glow you suspend from each earlobe. Lowering your head, you let a tiger-eye pendant fall between your breasts; the chain hooked at the nape of your neck, the tiger’s eye now rests in your sternal notch. And then it comes, snaking below the rhythmic surface, the slow-burning lead guitar.
Turning to face me, your whole body comes alive to the rhythm of the music: Snapping fingers loop-the-loop at your back and belly; five bands of fuchsia streak the travertine floor. Swinging out your arms you free your hips to sway; not missing a beat, you blow me a kiss. Your solar plexus funkifies the clockwork universe; your arms and legs climb the axis of the earth. And then, catching yourself in the mirror, you stop and tip into strangeness: Is it so, that horror can give way to happiness? From the invisible the visible streams as you stare at yourself. Who are you, Mara Zizek? I am… I am… I am a fever of being!
Out from the bathroom you step into the room; striding past the aquarium, you’re walking on air. From a fruit bowl on the console you pick up apples one two three. God and man and all the variety of the universe: In your juggling hands they revolve in an eccentric circle. Back in the bowl you place the apples: Nature is free, no proud masters needs she. Reaching behind your back, you unhook your bra: Let the ceremony begin!
̶ It’s getting cold, Sprague. It’s time to say goodbye.
̶ I’ll keep you warm, Marietta.
̶ No. I’m sorry.
̶ This week dragged past me so slowly.
̶ But you said you enjoyed being with Gram in New York, didn’t you?
̶ Nevertheless, the days fell on their knees.
̶ Sprague, that’s from Station to Station!
̶ So you do know rock ‘n roll!
̶ I love Bowie.
̶ So why did you—? Never mind. ‘If I did casually mention tonight…’
̶ ‘That would be crazy tonight…’
̶ I can’t.
̶ Why not?
̶ It’s not because I don’t want—I do, but…
̶ But what?
̶ I can’t, that’s all.
I sense your discomfort, I sense you’re in the grip of something your coolness can’t overcome. Still, your ambivalence is beguiling.
[‘She’ refers to Sprague’s paternal grandmother.]
̶ And when she came on her last visit to Canada—she was past-half-way deaf—I’d turn up the volume on Station to Station for her—she loved Bowie’s version of ‘Wild is the Wind’!
̶ She was hip!
̶ She was warm, spontaneous, open-minded. She had no prejudice of any kind. I liked that. It was so rare. With her blue, blue eyes, she’d look me in the eye.