Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Because It Is Bitter, and Because It Is My Heart

Iris's laughter is brief, scratchy, and mirthless.
--
Iris stands in the kitchen doorway. Her hair is fierce and burnished about her head; righteousness shines in her young face; she might be a form of an angel of wrath, a creature in an old painting, one of those medieval or early Renaissance paintings she contemplates in art books at the public library...feeling, for all their beauty, no human warmth, but a cold inquisitiveness, an analytical curiosity, wondering at the myriad forms human desire has taken.
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By degrees I've come to like it. I do like it. There is nothing that gives perspective to one's life like eating alone in a public place.
--
At school too Iris Courtney is rapidly acquiring a reputation for being cool, reserved, distant, "aloof." How much easier, that way.
--
But he [Jinx] is with the little white girl Iris, and he's laughing at the ease with which he can give comfort, like spilling coins from his pocket...his long arms wrapped around her, and her arms slung tight around his waist, tight, tight so it almost hurts. He's laughing, it seems funny to him. Girl, you about squeezing the life out of me! Girl, I better get you home fast!
--
It's a matter of thinking optimistically. Or not thinking.
--
Iris says with a coolness that makes her mother laugh, "I've outgrown them."
--
Don't walk too fast the white girls caution one another, don't walk too slow: scared, tremulous, eyes straight ahead, a tingling in the pit of the belly like minnows darting in shadowy water.
--
Iris Courtney learns. Perhaps she is too watchful, a little coldhearted. Dropping one friend as she acquires another.


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M is for Margaret, who was swept out to sea...