15

Your life is your life… the gods wait to delight in you…

                                    –from “The Laughing Heart”: Charles Bukowski

 

She was Cajun.  She wasn’t born in Louisiana.   She wasn’t a true blue Acadian.  But her roots—her family origins—were Cajun.  And if you want to know about her you need to know something about her mother, her grandmother—what her father was like.

So I will assume it.  I will assume her voice in what follows, as a way of telling it, telling her story and what she came from.  The research what enables this—family records, transcripts of interviews with friends and family, the voice of David—this what enables her voice to tell it the way that she does.  In the fiction of it.  In the lack of suspense of what you already know happens.  How David Threnody comes to know her.  How he sees her for the first time—bathing in a pool…

I was born in June.  In the summer of 1923.  I was born in the summer, but conceived in the fall, and this—this is where my life begins.  In the conception, the conception that birthed my world.  For you can go no deeper than your birth, no deeper than that first song you sing to the world, but you can—you can go deeper if you imagine, if you believe.  If you believe that all you have is your soul…  I dreamed of it long before I saw him with my own eyes, before he saw my nakedness with his eyes.  I dreamed the dark man—the baptism which gave honor to him.  I dreamed the man he saw at a crossroads, at a crossroads in Mississippi—my lover, my dark lover—and so I knew of the negotiation long before he knew he was negotiating.  He was no stranger to me.  And his eyes, his eyes upon me—my nakedness—this ordained in my birth, my worship to the creation, and the lord of it…  I was conceived of earth and my body is earth.  My eyes opened in the womb, in placental blood and semen, and out of this mixture was made the dirt of my flesh.  In honor of him and the proclivities, the powers of seduction he gave unto me…  I am the daughter of devils and conceived as such.  My shape, my form—the image of fallen angels and all their lost beauty.  I am good, pleasing the eye, and I was made for him—my lover.  I was what he asked for in dreams.  I was the answer to his name.  And in his talks with God I hinted to his nature all that his flesh wanted and yearned for in seminal dreams… I was born a woman to a man asleep.  And when he awakened…  he found me…

And how is it?  How is it that she tells you this, tells you this in the way that she does?  For she is hidden in not hiding.  She is revealed by being veiled.  And she not evil, an incarnation of evil.  This too easy—too simple to say.  She was a woman born, and nothing more.  Given the power by believing in her power.  No, only a frightened and weak-willed man would have a woman talk like this.  Only a man who has surrendered being a man sees a woman as this.  Painting a coy portrait.  A Mona Lisa smile…  Because what she says is not what she said.  They are a man’s words on a seed planted in fear, lacking an understanding in how the seed was planted.  They are the fanatic words of a battle lost before it is even fought.  And a false knowledge of enemy poised as a friend…  But I must say them.  I must say these words that I have her say to begin her character.  To draw the first sketches of an artist’s wife.  David Threnody’s wife.  I must use these words as a muse, and more of them will follow.  To build an idea.  A conception of what happened.  Why David killed for her.  Why he had her first husband killed as a symbol of all her former lovers, and why her son rose up against him.  Why the child they had together, their firstborn, tried to kill his father.  But this later, and for now only more musings.  More musings of the muse, and the liberty I take with them.  To capture the fever, the fever of a love turned bad, and the possibilities why.

She was born in June.  The year 1923.  Bethany Marie Labeau.  And the muse begins with her birth—her conception.  The story behind it.  The story of her baptismal.  How she told it to David in their bed.  And the fevered imaginations it inspired in him.  The songs he wrote as a man because of her whispers, her whispers in his ear…

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