Minotaur One


Picasso, Minotaur Caressing the Hand of a Sleeping Girl with his Snout, 1933

Its vegetarian mouth is open. In films little diamonds tilt from velvet pouches. Fingers manicured for close-ups raise the little diamonds and light shows the diamonds’ white grids. Light makes each facet oblique. Diamonds seem to sparkle because they are serially made blank by light, and their relief into transparency as they wheel out of light seems like glitter.

The minotaur weighs over the woman. The hairs of the hide along the bridge of its nose meet at the center. The bull’s head is larger than a man’s but the bull’s head is full of round and flat teeth made for pulling the white-rooted, wet-rooted stalks from the field and mashing them in the mouth like a warm grinding mill.

The minotaur has hands like a man. The head of a man, the head of a bull, the hands of a man, the minotaur’s hands … the ridiculous size of masculine bodies, their hardness packed in flesh and hair, like a truck engine wrapped in a sweater …

The minotaur’s curled head is made of edgy shapes, trapezoids and rough hair which at the limits of the head can be seen-through as the minotaur moves: between the black point or black curve and the slope of the animal head is the wallpaper, the moonlight on the wallpaper, the minotaur’s shoulder.



I taught English and History to the girl in the mountains. Her devoted parents had constructed a dreamhouse schoolroom in the high attic. The house stood along the bouncing heights of the canyon, topped and shouldered by live oaks and chaparral and lavender and sage and olive trees and and horned cactus and cactus whose paddle-leaves were the texture of expensive bags.

Out the northern windows the far heights, houses and community buildings small and infrequent. Throughout the day the land around the buildings would rise from blue to green like a happy face flushing.

The schoolroom was painted teal and sneaker-white. The big-lipped, sloe-eyed fashion doll on its stand beside the computer. The precious saddle, huge as an octopus, on its rack in the alcove.

Out the west-facing windows the staircase, the oak leaves level with our eyes, the wall of land and the slope of the hill which had been partially cleared and leveled for the chicken coops. The corner of land where the wall, its balancing trees and thick herbs, met the slope. When the drought broke that spring, a little waterfall stood there like a melting gray candle.

The portion of the hill which had been customized was a series of blonde, fence-straitened grades, dusty, flat to build on and simpler to climb than the natural hill. At breaktime the girl let herself down the ladderish staircase and took out her goose, carefully embraced it, and filled its kiddie-pool. It splashed and smacked as we learnt about Julius crossing the Rubicon.

One day I came in and the girl took me to the western windows and lifted her phone. She showed me a video she had taken from this vantage the afternoon prior: there was a lynx, its baroque sleeves crossed at the wrist, relaxing on th  grade above the chicken coops. It was an easy downward jump from their roofs but made no gesture toward them.

“My God,” I said. “Are the animals okay?”

“Yes. The cages were locked.”

The lynx’s muscular body, dog-sized but weighty and fat as a chain of train cars.

“She’s so calm.”

“She knows I’m filming.”

The lynx turned its face without anxiety, its pronounced, human nose, its black lips.

“Did she even try to get into the chicken coops?”

“No. She just left after a while.” The girl hesitated. “I kind of wanted to see her jump. Just to see it. Just to see what would happen.”

The girl and I looked up from the phone, into each other’s faces, and met there in a moment of perfect understanding.


airport hotel notebook

In the foreign country I take the train to the northern city and I take the bus to the airport and I take the shuttle to the airport hotel.

I leave the old city in the rain. On the bridge over the river the rain stands suddenly up, palms flat to the tabletop, chair banging down, and the brown river vibrates entirely—full-body gooseflesh rises across it. I am pulling my suitcases over the bridge and I am as wet on the surface of my body, the limits of my body, as I am inside my body, inside my skin. The raindrops hitting and squeezing my eyelashes; water pouring over my cheeks and into my mouth through my closed lips. Beauty like a big tree or snow on a mountain.

In the station my clothing is wetted to transparency and a young punk woman turns onto her hip beside me where we sit on the floor and she tells me she is worried about the way the men look at me. I can’t imagine there is any serious danger of rape but the twenty-something pornographer with a camera asks if he can take my photograph—“I’m a journalist.” I change my shirt in the bathroom. The anxiety of the women rattles me more than the men, whatever the men mean and whatever they are capable of.

I am alone on the bus to the airport and by this time the night soaks into the air out of the ground. The bus slopes over the highways which are mostly empty. The land and sky go black then glow green in the desolation of airportplace, a zone for miles around every airport. Waiting in the bus in the parking lot at the station I cry effortless tears, like water out of turf when the boot presses it. Without tension or real sadness. It is only that I am very tired. On the highway the black and the green like the orange of fireplace pokers—my eyes pointed into it and being inside it, surrounded by it—it gives me the old frisson, the frisson of the prairie. Not the equilibrium of water and water but a fearful depth-on-field, a stone made into a missile, a running fox, the spot of a flashlight. Naturally, a joyful frisson. And alongside this rolling-of-the-skin, beside it like the next thing, I desire warmth, loving comfort, to be childed by a body much bigger than mine.

The airport, and the little airport shuttle with other passengers in the dim, and then the airport hotel, an orange upright stone. Its silent chapel, its glacier-plain grounds in the black.