—AND WHEN I SAY GOD, I MEAN THE GOD
who made the snail, curled in a perfect house,
shitting on its own head; I mean the god
of untrue colours, the chartreuse and teal
god; I mean god of the conditional
tense, in the dark on the sixth day, who said
If there had been light: and there had been light.
I mean that god. I mean: Dear thick-kneed god,
Dear god who wears shoes big, who shambles —
LEVIN IN LOVE
“And what he saw then, he never saw again.”
— Tolstoy, Anna Karenina
Halfway through that story of gilt sofas and suicide by train—halfway, almost exactly—Levin, in love, cannot button his coat. You understand: this is not the story Tolstoy told, or at least, not what Tolstoy told us. The difference: Levin is here, with us, his fingers slipping among the pewter buttons, fastening them crookedly: we see the gaps, those lapses in the thick fabric of the greatcoat, exposing his shirtfront beneath which we can hear, almost, the trammelling heart: his fingers slip, he cannot, cannot button his coat. We must make his hands clumsy, we must delay him. Soon enough, he’ll go half-dressed into the street, he’ll see “the greyish-blue pigeons . . . and the little loaves of bread, sprinkled with flour, that some invisible hand had put outside the baker’s shop.” Somehow we must keep him here with us. Levin new in love. Soon enough, he’ll see what moves him most. A loaf of bread, a pigeon, fluttering its wings in the commonplace, the snow glittering, extraordinary. What he’ll never see again.
From The Quiet by Anne-Marie Turza, 2014. Excerpted by permission of House of Anansi Press. All Rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
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