Monday, August 18, 2014

My martini shook in my hand

Fed up with sleeping teenagers, I visited the cemetery Sunday with my cemetery kit: three books, two pens and paper. I read some of all the books - The Collected Works of Billy the Kid by Michael Ondaatje, a book of Benjamin Peret poems, and Kaputt by Curzio Malaparte.

The Peret poems wearied me with their crazy energy. Billy the Kid, which I’ve read many times, was good, but chilled me - also because the day was cold - and made me tired. I closed my eyes, I felt cold. I’d chosen a bench in the sun but there was no sun. My eyelids drooped; more than anything I longed to lie down, but it seemed disgraceful. Still, I had nothing anyone could steal while I slept, and it was unlikely anyone would accost me, there were so few people there. As an experiment, I put my legs up on the bench. I couldn’t go through with it. 

The last thing I wanted to do was go home and start innerly burning about my lazy do-nothing-all-day teenagers. So I moved on to Kaputt, with its slightly sleazy, sympathetic narrator:

“I had just returned to Italy a few days before after having lain in a Helsinki hospital where I had undergone a serious operation that had exhausted my strength. I still walked with a cane and was pale and emaciated. (...) My martini shook in my hand I was still so weak.”

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