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Original Sin

You step from the shadows and look to the ground, hovering over the crying shape below you---a girl, a young woman, a mess of long blonde hair shimmering in the light like a crinkled mass of thrown-out Christmas tinsle. As she huddles in a fetal position you cannot make out her arms or legs or head, hands, breasts, or feet, and only her overall egg-shape stands out in your mind. Light from above---the moon, a window or just the street light---illuminates the the quiet scene, the silence rocked only by her sobs; of joy or grief?

She huddles on the ground, in a puddle, clutching her body, seeking to hold herself together, struggling to keep herself whole, leaving no hole for the outside world to penetrate and ravage. Her puddle of tears or of blood (the light is faint, colors indistinct) soaks her gown, seeping up, pulling the cloth tight to her form and wrapping her in moisture, returning her to the womb.

I watch you both as one, as the scene, the unity of my experience, your thoughts only dreams in my mind. I stay in the shadows, a being not of the scene but beyond it, no longer part of the picture. I obeserve you observing her, her observing nothing around her; the light falling on her hair, the ripples of her puddle reflected in your eyes, the shadow from your body casting her into darkness. And while my heart sighs I dare not let out a single breath for fear of disturbing the perverse perfection caught in my gaze.

--March 28, 1999

Notes: The title to this piece---which was written a few years ago, shortly after I had started graduate school---is a recent addition to this text. Inspiration came from another short text (not included here; I never completed it) that had a young woman crying/screaming alone in a dark, damp alleyway. It became a short exercise in exploring three different perspectives, and in the end I am most interested the ambiguity of the conclusion. When I began the text I imagined it as a visual piece, in a sense photographed from three different angles, revealing different layers: first that of a subject observing an object; then the ``object'' itself, followed by a retreat and the revelation of a third party. As originally conceived, the third voice is another person, standing in the shadows; but it is optionally a removed party viewing a picture, or even an author or narrative voice composing a text.