Academic journal article Chicago Review

Mandrake, Hidden

Academic journal article Chicago Review

Mandrake, Hidden

Article excerpt

He was holding a root but his telling was breath. We were pulling a metal cart behind us filled with green from the native plant sale. He wanted everything and especially a plant which looked to me like a mandrake- a mandrake which must be hidden under the bed of a mother in order to save her Ufe. It was a child who placed the mandrake under the bed, a child now weeping in rags who also takes on the care and feeding of the mandrake. But this child was not walking on the roof as you might imagine, nor kneeling beside the bed folding and unfolding the cloth which held the root.

He stood there in the March light with sun hat and short sleeves, burned already from the ascent to the maiden pools of white marble. That wasn't a dream it was real, the white marble intuitive pools spilling over- even though we could not tell the beginning or the end of them. It was no use to imagine being someone else, or writing or kneeling as someone else, or looking into the eyes of anyone else holding the mandrake with a thick stubby head that looked at once bald and foreboding.

He held the plant lovingly and I did not wish to say anything febrile or fabricated or nonloving of the plant he clearly loved, but I failed and said instead, Let's try to pick something I at least don't find hideous. This after he decided not to pick it. I'm worried it will die, he said. At the same time the roof is walking and I was rubbing his back recalling a book in which love seemed impossible. I wished I had not read this book or I wished I had not known that the author was also impossible. The story had to do with breath, but then lungs became heart when he thought about it. He was told he needed surgery and I'm clearly not committed to telling this because I've promised not to write dense prose- and not sitting properly in my chair, halfway up and listening to the mandrake or the rabbit drinking, or the roof, or recalling the maiden pools- and yet I had not yet ascended to the maiden pools when I was listening- but recalling can shift in such dimensions can't it, so that I am lulled by the danger of the drop of the white waterfall. He could not sit anywhere near it with the children who ascend easily and listening. I was kneeling on the bed rubbing his back when he remembered that he was told he needed three surgical procedures. …

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