“ I will not be proportioned,” Mimi is insisting, “as though I were a lamb chop
punitively over-trimmed,” she continues, puncturing her hamburger with a knife under
which the spattered plate squeals in rebuke.
“According to Noel, we are real only when measured against the clock; and, really, it
is too alarming, Noel aping a befuddled butcher with me swinging on the scales”: Mimi
cadences temporarily, communing with her fork. That object, Mariah observes from
across the table, is hoisted into air as if tethered to a vine.
“A restaurant is not a cinema, dear,” Mimi explains, making a cavern of her mouth,
“and you should eat.” The latter procedure approaches fruition as the beef hurled into
Mimi’s cavern refrains from reappearing—and the fork returns thankfully, Mariah
imagines, to the plate. “Eating is so exhausting,” Mimi says, thumping an elbow against a
teaspoon, which gleams, inconsequently, in the wan restaurant light.
Watch the ignorant elbow, Mariah is thinking, about to move.
(Hypothetically, Mimi opens the door to Mariah’s apartment. She disputes the alliteration in the mirror on the left, near the library, allowing the solicitude of the hall to hurtle her into the bedroom on her right. She acknowledges a lack of acquaintance with the environment—and detects a corpulent bureau desirous of being plundered. She roots out a red turtle-neck sweater, the mohair lubriciously furred; she perforates it with cranium, arms, torso. Its amplitude, as she foretold, requires alteration. Having purloined a lipstick from the bureau-top, Mimi besieges the bed in the event that its lunge at reification will prove too haphazard. She is duplicating her mouth with a red so obtrusive that it must find her an inhospitable encampment for the gift, the gift which devolves upon the floor, by the window, and which may not be resuscitated. Repudiating that Mimi hyphened at the window, she elevates one half of her upper lip. She will almost bare her teeth.)
The Troubled Eye:
“I seem perpetually to be reduced, or so Noel informs me, as all of Nature addresses
us in the second person, so that one day, definitely in the morning and of course before
the mirror,” Mimi elucidates, scraping her fork against her plate, which maintains it may
be bowed, “we appear to have been abbreviated; in particularly desolate cases, a
substitution occurs, time having replaced us, most congenially, with someone else,” she
reckons, before delivering in addendum: “I believe I’ve got it right.”
How congealed she is within the window, Mimi ruminates, alighting on Mariah in her
chair, as though she might never get out. “Identification is always a hazard,” Mariah is
replying; “with such a plethora of substitution, one never knows precisely whom one is
Mariah’s right hand, assailing the tablecloth, discerns it to be real, while, across the
table, Mimi plunks her fork upon the sated plate, simultaneously shifting an elbow, the
shadow of which inspires a teaspoon to abscond from the table-edge, loping into air.
How percipient of it, Mariah thinks, not to be used.
(In her imagination, Mariah sees Noel unlocking the door to her apartment. He will decline to review his expatriation from the hall; of a larval nature, that saga is not to be remembered. He ascertains, however, propinquity to a bookcase before which he enumerates neutrinos pelting him, transfixing his body to playing the role of a human colander, the constituents poking impalpably in, out. This abstract calibration obscures his capacity for noticing the blinkered light in the library window, how an office building across the street, balking at immurement in shadow, eulogizes itself in effigy upon the floor, under the wooden table that seems to caper to the armchair, which does not move. Invading a book, he gleans a Polaroid snapshot of Mimi wearing an up-tilted, angular chin. That chin aims itself at the conjectural moustache on the man to its right who is glutinously evoked due to an emulsive imperfection. Noel’s finger prods the territory which the still gummy left eye socket, his eye socket, must inhabit. But the socket will abstain from being there.)
“I am living with a stop-watch,” Mimi repines, disregarding the aerial spoon.
“This morning, Noel inspected what he terms my ‘imitation’ in the bathroom mirror,
gauging its ascendancy as though I had already been supplanted,” she protrudes,
supplanted by a croak of the clock erupting from the wall behind her.
Mariah watches Mimi’s eyes, cowed briefly by their lids; “The next time you see
Noel,” Mimi propounds, lifting them, “look at the bulk of the brow bone, how it dwarfs
the eyes,” she amends, assaulting her table napkin with her hands. The linen iceberg,
Mariah reflects, afraid of being melted.
She tapers from her chair.
Conscious of a sudden squall to the left of the table, Mimi rises, spying Mariah
hunkered in obeisance upon the floor. “A salvaged spoon,” Mariah clarifies, snatching
that object from the air before it sticks to the ground.
Mimi decides that this is unremarkable.
“Don’t let anyone proportion you,” she warns, “even as a friend,” dismissing the
frieze of Mariah and the refulgent spoon in favor of her dentist, whom she will
accommodate, very shortly, with her teeth.
(Now, Mariah opens the door to her apartment. She is passing the oracular mirror, the
library, the bedroom; swerving to the left, she occupies the living room, where she will
continue to wear her coat. She perches on the illegible arm of a chair, numinously erect
before a bay window, which reproduces her. The lights in the office building diagonally
to the left suffuse with expiration, snuffing out the playground of stunted swings below,
across the way. Their reflections bunt at the window, feigning peroration. Her twin is
effaced by the black swatch of the window-glass: a disentanglement, Mariah discovers,