Copyright 2009 by Patrick Hewitt
She walks past the Maxol service station, past the newly planted flowers on the forecourt plaza, past the gleam of the BMW emerging from the car wash. We both inhale the vapours of aromatic benzene, the waft of petroleum from the oil-fields of Dubai, a dream unleashing aroma from a distant desert.
She is wearing the tightest of blue jeans, sculpting her long legs and her buttocks. Her long straight blonde hair reaches down to the small of her back. A man driving by is compelled to firmly grip the steering wheel of his car. All is dazzle, the red and green and glass of the petrol pumps, the sun reflecting on the variously flushed leaves of the cordylions, their foliage striped in creams and purples.
The fabric of her jeans is stretched to breaking point, and with great finesse, and in poetic French - de l'ecart maximum d'une grandeur qui varie periodiquement - she walks on towards the city centre.
In the Saturday silence of the town library later that day, I will pick up a book which suggests that "public life is not solely political, but equally, and even primarily, it comprises our habit of dress."
In fashion stores across Europe, in the dark wood and white marbled stores of Chanel and Louis Vuitton, every woman’s every gesture conveys vignettes of the mystery of her womanhood.
The noon-day warmth of the early new year sun is full of promise and expectation. The sky is a January blue, with pristine wisps of white cloud.
She walks past the houses and rooms of the professionals on the Crescent, the consultants who examine your urine for evidence of some strange infection, or check your faltering heart. One can tell that her dynamic urinary tract flows with the clarity of a mountain stream.
In the privacy of her morning bedroom she gave consideration as to how she should dress today, consideration as to how she would look in the public street and in the city square. In her struggle in the zipping up of her jeans, in the effort in hoisting them up so tight against her groin, there is audaciousness…there is bravery...there is boldness… there is passionate daring, and all the time there is exquisite restraint. And through her sensual courage she is liberating all of us. For her the human body is the instrument by which life is expressed.
The morning radio news reports on photographs which hint at recent water flows on Mars.
We are aware of her as she walks along Sea Road. We are aware of the fractal universe. We detect the waves and vibrations of the force field being created about her. We sense a colour charge of orange, greens, blues and magentas…all emanating from the abundant lotus that is her soul.
The Peach tree in the musician’s garden - dormant now in winter - detects her frequencies, frequencies which will determine a convulsive Springtime exchange, the stamen clasping itself to the pistil in germinal impulse, the pistil binding itself to the stamen, from which a rare shade of dark crimson blossoms will emerge in May, arousing much inquisitiveness.
In the musician’s studio a student hits a crashing tremolando and wonders from where it came.
She walks past the Jesuit monastery, pausing for some moments at the entrance to the Sacred Heart Church. She looks at me. Can she possibly understand how a young man might have agonised here for long periods on 1960s Saturday afternoons? The act of kneeling outside a confessional booth cannot possibly be an experience with which she will be familiar. Tormenting one’s self in a church pew assessing the gravity of one’s impure thoughts is surely something she knows nothing about.
The architectural beauty of the church is framing the sculpted beauty of her figure. Yet all of this compelling beauty cannot completely release me from the memory of a young man's experience, the on my knees experience, of uttering the imposed guilt-laden words: “Bless me father for I have sinned.” My consciousness of her beauty still evokes old memories, fears and desires.
With time I have come to know that the body needs a benedictus as surely as it needs the nourishing rays of the sun. Today, I experience the continuing need to be blessed. Now I seek my benedictus by uttering: "Bless me father, I praise this sin, I need this sin, I must have it, I must have this pleasure.” And as I do, it seems that somewhere from a long way off, somewhere in the distant heights of this church, somewhere in the air I seem to hear a faint chanting: Sing to the Lord, all the earth on this January day, truth and beauty surround her.
My old hand-book from the boy's confraternity defined me as a wretched sinner. As a miserable fallen creature, it instructed me to stretch forth my hand for assistance to the Madonna lest that in "the hour of temptation I may through negligence fail to have recourse to her and thus perish miserably."
"My dear young men, there can be no doubt that the reckless exposure of the body is the occasion of very many sins against holy purity." That's a thundering voice from a pulpit of my youth.
I gaze at her. I gaze at her, trying to put something of herself inside my head.
I want to worship her beauty. She can satiate my agonised longing. It is her hand I want stretched forth to me...in reaching out her hand to me she will overcome my isolation and my loneliness.
As she turns to leave the church, her eyes catch mine. I want you to join me on a remote island, they seem to suggest, I know an oratory there.
Our conversing eyes propose that on the white marble of an oratory altar, on the "table of holy desires," for a sacramental hour, we will celebrate with our bodies, we will be naked and raise our hands to the heavens, and in our coupling, in our savage and delirious and animal coupling, we will elicit from each other the essential expressions.
And we will come to know that God and life and creativity and the experience of beauty and the very essence of things are only realised and understood in the violence and the precision of ferocious carnal coupling.
She moves from the church, and disappears past the corner of the Crane Bar.
In the early afternoon, I see her again in the bookstore in Middle Street, that one with the vaguely old-world, bohemian ambience, a bookshop where impossible dreams might realise themselves in every nook and cranny, where one is surrounded by Hoelderlin, Baudelaire, Nietzsche, Proust, Nabokov, Kundera and other heroes, a store with a sense of sacred possibility enabling love and enchantment, conveying the marvelous and the mysterious, a store penetrating the secret thoughts of those who are desperate for love.
I try to catch her eye again, but she doesn’t see me. She seems lost in a passage of a book entitled The Secrets of Rome: Love and Death in the Eternal City by Corrado Augias.
In the evening I dream of her. She is naked and perspiring, dancing beneath a jasmine tree.
Patrick Hewitt was born in Limerick city. He lived
in many parts of Ireland before settling in Galway, Ireland in the
mid-1990s. He works as a continuing education facilitator. He
has previously had short fiction published in West47 and in Crannóg
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