DOG (WHERE I END AND YOU BEGIN)
Moscow, February 1954Being an account of Liya Nikoleyevna, wife of Vladimir Demikhov, transplant surgeon.In the morning there is a dog that hadn’t been here before. Volodya is asleep, his eyes little half-moons. In the pale light this morning his face is waxy, a death mask. Never before has a man looked so young and yet so old. He is like a little boy, the way he purrs in his sleep. But this is no time to admire. There is a dog, a big Alsatian, slobbering on the bedclothes. On my mother’s coverlet, no less. I hiss, trying to shoo it away without waking Volodya, but then I feel a short stab of anger — it is he who has let the dog into our tiny apartment. And not a small dog, either — a huge beast. What of Olechka, sleeping soundly in the next room? Her door is ajar; it would be easy for this dog — which could, now I think more because I am shaking off the foolishness of sleep, be rabid — to get into her room and it could rip her throat out.How do I know it is Volodya who has brought this dog into our apartment? First, who else? Not Olechka, who is but a girl. But it being a dog in particular does not surprise me. He has a history with dogs. Not long after we met, before his face got soft and puffy with tiredness and he had something like prospects rather than ignominy, he told me by candlelight a little story of his childhood.“You know, Iliusha”, he said, his face a weft of shadows, “I once tried to stab a dog."
The First Sunday in Extraordinary Time
I am the hole in your heart. I speak, though I am a nothingness, an absence of space. You slosh and pump and hum, you body-machine, around me, but though I am nothing I am still within you, and you feel my nothingness like a something.You know that your heart is a composite organ. It is yours and it is not yours. Come, run your fingers over the stitchwork. These are the threads that suture muscle to muscle. Look, here. The superior vena cava is your mother’s, raised like an arm to heaven. It throbs sanctimoniously. It is the reason you still feel the weakness in your hamstrings, that urge to genuflect, whenever you’re near a church. Blood rushes through it like wind through an organpipe.Trace your fingers now over the stitching, to the ascending aorta. It is your father’s. It curls like a tree’s root, arcing itself, bracing in a hug’s knot.Every part of your heart belongs to someone else. The stitching is expert. It swells with love, fat with it. It is a healthy heart, ripe and apple-red. It beats iambs, the biology of poetry. Sylvia Plath listened to the old brag of her heart: I am I am I am. You are. You are they and they are you.
I set fire to everything I owned.I set fire to all the paper. It made sense to get started with the paper. I burned the old chequebooks, the crispy receipts, the furled and puckered bills, the red rabid final demands. I burned my driving licence and birth certificate; I cackled witchily as the Decree Absolute was licked by flames. I set fire to birthday cards from dead relatives and birthday cards from lost friends. I set fire to her hospital paperwork and his lifetime service award.
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I publish #WrightNews every Sunday, in which I share what I've been thinking about, reading about and writing about.I also publish short #AlexAsks essays based on my current research. Topics include mental health, autism, Literature, the mind, behaviour and artificial intelligence.I also publish other fiction and non-fiction whenever I feel like it.
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