Saturday, September 12, 2009

Bishop Quertaro de Arteaga

His hands gesticulating wildly, the bib on his surplice flapping, Bishop Quertaro de Arteaga tells the legless man ‘you’d do better to put your faith in God my boy’. ‘that’s no way to speak to a boy’ says the legless man’s da, his nostrils flaring wildly. ‘God will see to your son’s gamey legs sir…’. ‘…and iron won’t?’ interrupts the legless man’s da, his throat constricting. ‘there is no time to waste’ says the Bishop, ‘step up and take the Lord into your legs…’. ‘heart! …you damn fool!’ says the legless man’s da, his face red as chimney brick. ‘in your sons case its best we start at the bottom and work our way up’ says the Bishop, ‘that way he’ll be able to kneel at the altar and pray’.’damn fool!’ says the legless man’s da, the back of his throat tightening. ‘come with me!’ says the legless man’s da, grabbing hold of his son’s coattails. ‘and step on it!’ Scrabbling his iron legs across the parquet floor, his coattails forming a V behind him, the legless man falls in behind his da, the smell of burnt offerings and candle wax singeing the hair in his nose.

Théophile served the Bishop beans on toast and a cut up orange for lunch. The Bishop liked his lunch served at exactly 27 ½ minutes past noontime, his belly howling like a starving child if his lunch was a minute late. Théophile scurrying into the manse dining room, the Bishop waving him off with his napkin. ‘would you serve Christ his lunch late?’ he’d say, Théophile bowing in servility. ‘I thought not, now get out of my sight!’ He filled his pipe, tamping it with his thumb, the smell of the tobacco sweetening his mood. Bishop Quertaro de Arteaga made the beast with two backs with the rectory nun, pulling her habit round her waist like a papal corset, the confessional shaking like a midway ride.

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"Poetry is the short-circuiting of meaning between words, the impetuous regeneration of primordial myth". Bruno Schulz

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