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George Szirtes-IV



A country dog flits across the street;

The old paper mills! The green pure water. – Sarah Kirsch, tr Anne Stokes


She awoke upside down in a moment of quiet. This would do. No need to say anything.   It was only when her breasts were ablaze she noticed she had become a symbol of something. Now to find out what.    She was composing herself as one had to in order to know who one was, assembling the pieces with a particularly pleasing fury.   How far am I symbol, she wondered. How far not?

Was it enriching or reductive to be a symbol? Is a golden body more valuable than one of flesh and blood? Was blood a symbol?    If she turned slightly she could see herself over her shoulder in the mirror. There was the symbol, in the flesh, through glass.   Seeing myself is being outside myself, she said. The seen me is out there perceiving the real me as a symbol, as distance, as siren.   (Far away a symbol was waiting and watching, as symbols do.)

He was writing her. I was writing him. I was being written and read by her at a symbolic, faintly erotic distance where nothing would happen.   So they lived happily after, someone was writing. Someone had to, after all, preferably someone anonymous, she thought. Someone like us.  Can’t we all just try to be nice to each other, asked the anonymous voice. That’s the way the anonymous voice tends to talk, she thought.

And so she turned to look through the window where three symbolic statues stood in a symbolic garden that needed attention.  Nature is a forest of symbols, the symbolist had written. Nature is naked, wrote the naturist. The imagination needs clothes, she suggested.