Below me should be the restful lounge of . .of . .? perhaps I am at the university of New Mexico instead. I have more of a sense of an art gallery behind my back than of the silent, spacey lounge in the basement of Uris Library. It must be the sensation of facing a facade. I feel as though a thick pane of glass separates me from the visible floors of the library. I think to see Dixon one had to be inside. However, the double rows of wooden desks tilted at a slight angle and the antique chairs on the vibrantly green carpet cause some indecisiveness. At the very least the first floor is from the Dixon Library. The other floors are an inexact improvisation. I suspect that if I wanted, I could easily find myself in the Dixon Library. For the moment though, I can wait.
With an exceedingly long arm I unfold the letter that arrived in the mail. I don't know if I received it here or if my parents sent it to me. I lost the envelope. Perhaps my mother sent it. I can't yet have a mailbox address.
Fine black print, almost too fine to read, certainly difficult with arms that reach six feet beyond my face, outlines a list of books. A list of books to read. I have just begun my sophomore year, and in two weeks I will have to give book reports on at least two of the books on the list. Why do they make us give book reports in college? Did I skip doing it my freshman year, and that's why I have to do it now? I think this is a very silly idea. At the very least I recognize two books that I read in high school, Death Be Not Proud, and something by Shakespeare.
However, I realise that just writing a book report is indeed too silly for a university student. They really want us to write a novel, a synthesis of two books from the list. I will have to write a novel synthesizing Death Be Not Proud and some Shakespearian play. I don't remember the specific play. I think it just said, 'Shakespeare.' Perhaps I can use Twelth Night or something with the character Falstaff. .. can I do this in two weeks? I decide not to worry about whether I can or cannot.
I leave the library from a floor multipled above the first. Exits from the open floors lead to closed staircases with a dark, dank atmosphere. The only lighting comes from occasional EXIT signs over the doors to the floors below. The signs are EXIT signs, but they do not say EXIT. I don't know what the red letters spell. I can't read them.
I found a pencil and a paperback, either a Skaespearian play or a copy of Death Be Not Proud, in one of the carrels in the library. I don't know which book I picked up as I can't read the title. My arms tend to drag along or near the ground, bumping from stair to stair making it impossible to see the cover.
Marvin's apartment has a new decor. I should have noticed, entering from the front door, except I think I came in through the balcony. He kept the reddish orange fern fronds, kept them by the piano as usual. I think he kept them for my sake, they were always among my favorite sculptures of his. I would push the long end of the metal spiral connected to the base plate just to listen to the crackling noises of the metal as it swayed to and fro. It seemed much easier to do it when I was only three feet high.
Marvin offers me a cup of cappucino in a glass mug with a design on the handle resembling the grid meshworks in the library. Has Marvin ever offered me coffee before? It seems odd that he should do so.
We sit as his glass table in the dining room. It once faced his kitchen. Instead I face a mirror image of the room behind me. He really has altered the layout of his apartment. The room ends in a wall rather than a glass door opening to another balcony. A large painting made up of rectangular canvases covers most of the wall. I painted it. It represents a sketchy outline of a grander work, a work I dreamed or have completed but keep in another location. Marvin offers me his critique of it and asks for some interpretation.
The sketchy outline details a scene, somewhere in Spain I think. I have painted most of it in browns and blues with bold, black lines denoting the edges of prominent objects in perspective. If it weren't so large I might think I did it in watercolor. A group of boys play in a large puddle, perhaps the edge of a lake or the Mediterranean ocean. Behind them lies a dirt road, a wall with some villas and a narrow opening that opens into a garden, though we cannot see much detail as shade covers the garden. Distant houses and a hill, some trees behind the wall, and a few other elements of the landscape can be seen. The boys, the wall and the tops of some trees take up most of the space in the painting. One boy is climbing over the wall, presumably to join the others. I think I saw this image in Spain . . sometime when I was waiting for Luisa and Matt.
I know this is a sketch. The grander version is not so simple. The taller boy standing to the left, for instance, he has just a pale wash of reddish brown for his pants, a lighter shade for his shirt, a intermediate shade on his face beneath his jet black hair. In the grander version six hard boiled eggs spread out from his belt to give rise to his torso. I etched and pressed the canvass with paint, yellow and burnt orange to give it the effect of eggs lying underneath. I crimped and folded some parts of the canvas, overlying everything with thick layers of paint so it appeared wet and matted. The wall was filled with small objects up close that faded to nothing but continuity when viewed from afar. The trees had something else, tree-like but twisted and spiralling, full of vortices like a slowly building thunder-head.
I tumble down the stairs some more. SCHOOL'S OUT!, I think to myself. I wrote part of my assignment for the novellar synthesis. What was the story in Death Be Not Proud? Death obviously. Proust? Proud? A woman? Strips of black and white ripped paper, a dove . . I really can't remember.
I jump down an embankment without realizing that I jump. They have a very steep exit from the library. Perhaps it was designed to wake people up on leaving. Oh.. the sidewalk and plaza in front of the library has such a white, white glare. It really bothers my eyes. I look to the side to avoid its glare.
The side affords an expansive view of the desert plain and two stately ridges of mountains rising from the valley floor. A gap runs obliquely through the staggered ridges. I rise from the plaza to hover hunderds of feet above the plain, a plain colored in wondrous hues of red and brown, rocks of cinnabar, mountains of cinnabar, cinders of cinnabar. No brush, no plant life, only darker rocks of a deep, rich brown in various sizes complement the wondrous tones of cinnabar.
This could be the American southwest, but I suspect that it is in North Africa, the middle east at the very least.
Two figures move in rapidly graceful movements over the flat plain, directly towards the shadow of mountains looming in the distance. Two women belly dancers. I see them from above, slightly from behind as they move. I never see their faces. They wear loose reddish pants made of a light, translucent material with hints of purple and burgundy running the length of their legs. The fabric blows gracefully in the winds sweeping the plains, rippling from time to time when caught in a local cross-wind. A golden scarf with threads of blue and green covers their waist and a turquiose tunic with an odd iridescent quality flaps loosely, but not too loosely from around their torsos. The tunic has no sleeves allowing their arms of fair complexion to wend freely above their heads in graceful movements of equal complexity to those of their bare feet as they traverse the cinnabar sands. Their feet create distinct patterns in the sands, rhythmically flowing with the gyrations of their hips, the rotations of their shoulders and elbows, and endless volitions of their wrists and fingers; movements that form unseen trinkets in the space between them. The motion has a hypnotic captivation to it like a sidewinder climbing a desert sand dune. Both women have long flowing hair, brunette, kept behind their faces with a rolled strip of golden fabric similar to the scarves wrapped around their waists. The tying knot disappears under the flowing hair, just behind the neck. I would sense a rhythm, a wondrous rhythm if I could hear it, if the wind were not blowing so steadily and with such force at my altitude. I would sweep in behind them. Perhaps I do to feel the vibrations of their feet pushing the sand aside in smooth curves that sustain themselves long after the dancers have passed.