“What we need to do,” I was telling Naïa, the daughter of Lady, the owner of the café where I write, “is to flood the Sala Poética, where the poetry open mic is held, with Holy Water, and establish the Fuente de Sanación, since absolutely everybody has been sick around here, and we’re all in the need of a good sanation.”
Predictably, everybody was on board with the idea, since the café tends to embrace the odd, the eccentric, the logic that is less than linear and more than poetic. Lady immediately thought of establishing a church, since the Sala is a temple of sorts, and besides, we’re going to have our first relic.
“They’re going to do an autopsy on me, and take out a piece of my bone, and I have to be sure to get it back, because I don’t want some person walking around with a piece of my body,” said Lady, a week or so back.
“Oh hell, I meant biopsy, Marc,” said Lady, and I knew what she was thinking: It was a very bad mistake indeed, since Lady believes in the Law of Attraction, and this attraction was hardly attractive. But who knows—maybe she’ll have the same results as Montalvo, also a believer of the same law? He’s been attracting the Nobel Prize for years now, without so much as a nibble.
“Right,” I told her, “we could do just what my great- aunt did with her love apple, and keep the bone chip on a dusty velvet pillow under a bell jar.”
Wonderful ideas tend to flow in the presence of Lady….
“In fact, we could create a shrine, since we now have the relic. So that means we could create the Lady Shrine, which sounds totally Anglican, since they already have a Lady Mass and a Lady Chapel. So why not get Carlos Laster to make a reproduction of the Cross of Bury St. Edmond? Hey, that’d be terrific!”
OK—Lady didn’t know what that was, but that’s why they invented the Internet….
OK—who knows whether Carlos can pull off something so intricate as the Cross of Bury St. Edmund, which anyway may be a good thing, since here’s what Wikipedia has to say about the cross, currently in the Cloisters Museum in New York:
The carvings which cover both front and back sides include ninety-two intricately carved figures and ninety-eight inscriptions. The figures, each of which is only about one-half inch tall, illustrate a number of Biblical scenes, and on the back a number of the Old Testament prophets with banderoles containing quotations from their books. There is debate over whether or not these inscriptions are chosen with an anti-Semitic intent.
Right—so we decide to put aside the question of what figures from the life of Lady should adorn the cross—though I told her I better be somewhere, and prominent—and table as well the question of what scripture, or rather poems, should grace the cross as well. But who knows, it might be just about anything, since a woman has come in crying and holding all of Lady’s books, and was seeking autographs and pictures.
“Do you know how often that happens to me?” said Lady, and in fact I did. I’ve seen people say the same thing; I once saw a tattoo of a poem of Lady’s on the back of a woman.
“Oh, that’s the second time somebody has done that,” said Lady, as I was licking my wounds. Has anyone ever gotten an iguana tattoo?
Anyway, we go on to invent the hagiography necessary to sustain the shrine. Miracles? Easy enough: Try this…
Dolores was a thirty-nine year investment counselor with a thriving practice on the West Coast. Her clients, all of whom had to have over a billion dollars in the funds she handled, were awed by her financial acumen, and complete lack of compassion: When Detroit was floundering, what did she do? She hedged, and made a killing!
Visiting Old San Juan, however, she stumbled into the Poet’s Passage, and saw the Lady Shrine with the relic of the Holy Poet. It meant nothing to her, especially since it was made of papier-mâché, a base material. She returned to Babylon, to the business of making money off the financial foolery of others, when she woke one day, and found herself speaking sentences like this:
“This gold is of the dullest shine, think long before you buy. But if you seek another coin, fail not to look on high!”
What could it be? Her clients looked at her with increasing skepticism, this lady who had said, “buy,” or “sell,” and who had more often been right? But now…well, what to make of this?
She sought help in all corners; no specialist went unvisited. It was only until she consulted a neuro-linguist that he could detect the pattern.
“You’re speaking in iambic pentameter,” he told her. “Most unusual….”
“So stricken as I am, Dear Sir, what ever shall I do?”
The neuro-linguist had no answers, but did suggest that she read free verse, or at least something in other rhyme schemes. But it was no use, Dolores could never again speak in anything other than iambic pentameter. Worse, her mind, once crunching data as easily as a crocodile could crunch a fish, grew weak and strong with images, with similes, with paradoxes, with extended metaphors, with flights of invention that left her weak and strangely energized, At last she could bear it no longer: She barred her office door, sent away the secretaries and the assistants, and unplugged the phone. She left an out of the office message: “I toil not in the mines of gold, but trip through fields of flax!”
Her life was over, she shed it as a snake sheds its skin: unthinkingly, instinctively, gloriously. Her friends repudiated her, spat on her, cursed her for the money she no longed cared to make for them. She walked the city she had formerly ruled, with her oligarchy of money changers, and stopped to peer at the flowers in the cranny walls.
“So we’ll get a lot of these stories, and build up the myth of the Lady Shrine. And wow, guess what’s gonna happen when we get the first person magically cured of Writer’s Block! We’ll have flocks of people filing past the shrine! And your books! Bam! Flying off the shelves!”
“Is this before or after you flood the Sala Poética with water?” asks Naïa, who since attending this new school has embraced a terrible pragmaticism.
“After, of course,” since we’ve all been sick.
“Cool, underwater poetry,” says Norma, and if she can get it, what’s with Naïa?
“And how are you going to keep the water in the Sala Poética, and not have it spill over into the rest of the store,” asked Naïa, who, if she’s so literal-minded, then why did she text me earlier in the day: “Morgan Freeman cannot be cloned, because that would require unicorn tears.” So I tell her the water will be holy, and we’ll tell the priest to tell the water to stay in its place, and if the Red Sea can part, the Sala Poética will be the Fuente de Sanación and the store will be the store. Can’t she see that?
“Marc,” says Lady unexpectedly, “am I going to be all right? Because Sunshine pretended to be my husband, and the doctor who did the autopsy—damn, the biopsy—said the worst case is amputation.” Lady has this familial disease wherte the bones keep growing, even after they shouldn’t. Fortunately, they grow out, and not long, since we’d now have a 12-foot Lady, though come to think of it, she is larger than life.
“You’re going to be fine,” I tell her, because she will be because she has to be because what are we going to do with a diminished or defective Lady. But she brightens and tells me…
“…I decided this morning that if they have to amputate my foot, well, I have all the equipment. I know how to make the rubber molds that I use for the casitas, so I’ll just make a rubber mold of my foot. That way I can be walking around on my own foot, not somebody elses….”
I agree, and then start to worry….
Will the Board of Sanitation allow a human foot in a papier-mâché cross?