Corpses, Arts and Dreams Of
An Excerpt

The moon is full and out on the terrace she has spread the cushions of rosy tiny flowers all over soft white cotton cloth on the black metal chairs and a few large ones of rough nomadic textures on the white stones of the floor. The moon is full up there in the sky and the light of the few stars has faded in the face of its light and some have filled their glasses with vodka and fruit juice and some have brought along the wine bottle and their glasses and plates and bowls of mezes outside to the table that is covered with a tablecloth that was once the fresh green of grass and after weeks of being left spread during the day in the blazing sun of the city and during the night in the dust of construction sites nearby has turned into a faded green of the pistachios in the bowl of mixed salted nuts and yet it has kept its dark blue dots that are the color of the dark blue of the night of the city on its less-polluted nights like tonight. The moon is full up there in the sky and the tall metallic crane has fixed its leg in the earth of the huge pit that is the lot of the once-upon- a-time neighbor’s villa on the main alley to the right of the building and risen high to reach out an arm and touch the round face of the lover moon that is sitting up there in the sky with a full bosom, all naked and stretched out, while the trees and the lights and the dust and the air and the noise of the city swoon over the voices murmuring I feel I know you I don’t know how I don’t know why . . . To feel To feel . . . We spent some time doing one thing or another Never really mattered as long as we were together . . . My home has no heart My home has no veins If you try to break in It bleeds with no stains . . . T’as pas le droit d’avoir moins mal que moi Si j’ai mal c’est pas normal que toi tu n’aies pas mal . . . Everybody wants to rule the world It’s my own design It’s my own remorse . . . coming from the ipod in the living room through the wide open French doors to where they are all now settling. The moon is full up there in the sky and shining over the frame of their togetherness with one another and with the plants and the metal seats and the table covered with glasses, small bowls of cherries and chips and cucumber-yogurt salad and nuts, an ashtray that is a cockroach, a tiny candleholder and two iphones. The cat appears from the nowhere from which it appears whenever it wishes, desiring to have food at this house, lie on her couch, interrupt her fingers moving on the laptop, be caressed by those very fingers. The cat appears through the bamboos lining up the half wall of the terrace and the light goes off in a window of the villa overlooking the courtyard beneath the terrace only to go on in another window and the cat swishes past the legs of the woman who calls it lovingly and the legs of the woman who fears animals and the legs of the man sipping his vodka nonchalantly and the legs of the man who is discussing the latest art auction and the legs of the woman listening closely to him finally finding there the familiar scent it is looking for and sitting down with a purr in between her crossed legs on the cushions on the floor and letting its neck be caressed by the familiar fingers. The moon is full and the man whom she doesn’t know who has come with a friend whom she knows is a wonderful artist but is so full of himself discusses heatedly the auctions and the pieces and the prices and the hands behind the scenes and the money laundry and the fake exports and the fake artworks and the figures and the names and the mix of colors and the stroke of brushes, the image of a nightmare, the room with a view of Dali’s surrealism, the shades of a woman’s intestines, the broken engine of an old Beetle, the shadows of the souls, the sewn eyes, the shattered statues, the face of the sun on an ochre wall, the coins tossed in a taar case on Mediterranean sidewalks, black ink floating on white paper to disrupt and cover the image of a nightmare. The moon is full and the woman listens carefully trying to remember his words, the names and the banknotes, thinking that she needs to ask the friend who has brought this man to arrange for a meeting to talk arts and statues, pretending she is not listening to him now but to the water rising from the small fountain in another corner of the terrace, looking at the cat’s eyes and at the hands and fingers and shoes and legs of the men and women around and the light spilling over the terrace from inside the apartment. She smoothens out the white dress floating around her body and runs a hand through her short black hair and stares at the watch around the wrist of the man she has been desiring holding on to a digital camera and his fingers managing the options and his eyes hidden behind the lens through which he is looking at the moon, the moon high up there in the sky overlooking them. The light of the neighbor upstairs goes off and the ipod playlist comes to an end and she caresses the cat and hands it to the woman next to her and she gets up and takes a few dirty plates and an empty bowl and her glass of wine to the kitchen. She cleans up a bit, brews some tea for later, prepares a plate of sweets and fruits, and as she grabs them and walks back to go out, at the threshold of the windows, she almost bumps into him coming in to put his digital camera inside and go to the bathroom and she takes the scent of his cologne in and he asks her if she needs help and she tastes the weight of her own breath and hears the muscles of his body and the second is only a second but longer than a second and she says yes can you take the sweets and fruits out and he gives her his camera and she sends him out again and goes back inside. She walks to the bathroom to pee but forgets and instead splashes some water on her face and wears some more red lipstick and before heading back to the terrace she chooses another playlist and turns the volume a bit down and takes the poetry book from the shelf and her wine glass from the kitchen counter and walks out under the moon that is full up there moving in the sky of the night changing its position to get farther and farther away from the crane. She gives the book to the woman caressing the cat who hands it to the man who is taking a cigarette out of the pack who takes the cat only for a second and puts it down on the floor to light his cigarette. The cat meows and walks quietly toward the bamboos to hide herself in their shade. She fills her wine glass and swallows half of it as she sits down again on the cushions on the floor feeling the moon fulling and her body fooling, wanting the man she wants to follow her bare feet her ankles and what of her legs he can see below the edge of her long dress wanting him to take in her perfume and her scent and see the corner of her mouth curving in a smile as she takes a stealthy look at his beard his lips his neck wanting the artist and those talking with him to shut up wanting the woman to whom she has handed the book of poetry to open it and read a poem for divination for the metal wings of the butterflies resting on the metal vines erected in the jasmine pot and for the tiny feet of the ceramic lizards and turtles resting in between the little rocks scattered around the pots of geranium and peony and rosemary, read a poem for divination for the gestures of the night for light for flesh for breath. She hushes everyone and asks them to say the prayer and asks her to open the book and she sips the rest of the wine and waits for the poem feeling the touch of his gaze over her fingers around the wine glass. She reads the poem and the moon reaches for the peek of the blue darkness of the sky for the highness for the vastness for the silence for the life for the life and death in their bodies and the cat sleepily jumps over the wall behind the bamboos and wanders into the alley to go to the neighbor’s house which she calls home leaving them who are now repeating the final line of the poem. As they drink freshly-brewed tea, some discuss the poem and others don’t care and get busy with their hanging out until some get up to help clean things on the table and they all head inside and the playlist on the ipod has long since stopped. They invade the silence in the living room with their voices and bodies moving from the outside that is the terrace inside to her apartment to move once again outside into the alley and into their cars and then towards their homes. Hope to see you soons and promises for another gathering take only as long as it takes to grab the keys to cover up with manteaux and scarves to put kisses on cheeks and when the friend and the artist so full of himself take a step to say goodnight she rushes to ask the artist whether they can meet and talk about the auctions and the artworks but he says oh sorry but I am going abroad in two days for a show and for vacation and I am really busy in the next few days and she wants to push him to make this happen but then the body of the man she wants so bad tonight comes closer to hers in a frame of late night early morning wine and tea breaths and he kisses her and says he wishes to see her soon and she forgets about the artist leaving for a show and for vacation and the friend who brought him and they are gone out of the door and she wonders whether she should ask the man she wants tonight to stay but she doesn’t find the right words then and he leaves with another friend who is giving him a ride back home. And a second is not only a second and fifteen minutes is the time it takes her to empty the bowls and organize what is left of the food in the fridge and put the plates and glasses in the sink and bring the cushions in and turn off the lights and lie down on the couch and light a cigarette in the light of the moon whose round body is not in the frame of any of the windows anymore but whose light keeps penetrating the living room through the glass of all the windows spreading its coldness over the hand-woven carpet with the figure of the lion and the gazelles and the birds covering a patch of the stone floor in yet another midsummer night. And fifteen minutes is the time that it takes her to realize she cannot wait for him and for the soon he spoke of. She picks up her cellphone and texts him and asks whether now is soon enough, gets a text back immediately that says it is already beyond soon that says he should have not left that says he should have kissed her before leaving that says he will make up for it that asks how should he make up for it, and she texts him back and asks what about trying to make up for it now, gets a text back that says now is the time to try to make up for it that says he has just gotten home but he will call a cab and be on his way back so don’t fall asleep and I will be there soon, and she texts him back and says she will be waiting. And fifteen minutes double is the time that it takes him to call a cab and wait for it and ride in it through the streets he has just rode through only now in the reverse direction, for her to wait for him on the couch with another cigarette and another, telling herself she needs to write down what the artist was saying, the names, the titles, the prices, before she forgets, but instead she rolls a joint and her index finger fumbles with the keys on her cellphone and she rereads his messages and gets new ones that tell her he will be there in ten minutes in five minutes in two minutes can’t wait to get there. She goes to the bathroom and freshens up and opens the windows all of them wide open once again. Fifteen minutes double and a few more minutes is the time that it takes for him to arrive at the building door and for the lobby man to allow him in and to buzz her to let her know in a sleepy voice filled with disapproving question marks that he tries to hide that she has a guest and for her to open the apartment door on him and he grabs her and pulls her toward him impatiently but gently and puts his mouth over hers and she throws her arms around him and moves her fingers through his hair and his beard and their tongues meet in the vortex of the entrance hallway and the two start shedding their clothes as they find their way to the bedroom hanging on to each other. It all takes only a second or not. A second that is going to forever be their first is a second that is not a second but is a second and a breath, a breath, a giggle, a breath, a breath, a sigh, and another breath, and the sound of cellphones falling to the floor next to her bed and another breath and another breath and a pause as she throws the bedcover to one side and the two of them, now completely naked, get on the bed. He touches her wetness and asks, whispering in her ear, “What shall we do with these bodies?” and she takes his hand and guides him inside her as the moon continues to grow a bit more full or a bit less full fooling around in the universe of its own all the while overlooking the fools that they are in the infiniteness of the circle of their minds and bodies, intimate and distant, ebbing and flowing.

Contributor

Poupeh Missaghi

POUPEH MISSAGHI is a writer, translator, world wanderer, and currently a Ph.D. candidate at University of Denver's Creative Writing Program, Fiction. She holds a master's in Creative Writing from John Hopkins University and a master's in Translation Studies from Azad University of Tehran, Iran. Her literary interests include, but are not limited to: ecriture feminine (women's writing), writing from/about dictatorial states, documentary poetics, Roberto Bolaño, world literature, translation, etc. Her work has appeared in the Feminist Wire, World Literature Today, Guernica, the Quarterly Conversation, the Barcelona Review, Short Fiction Magazine, the Baltimore Review, and elsewhere.

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