September 11th, 2020 / 9:45 am

Someone has touched me; I need to lie down

“Someone just now has touched me! A human hand
has touched me! — I am ill and I need to lie down.”

“We know that only through observation or by
the sense of touch are we able to recognize and identify
the handiwork of our brothers, in this way
distinguishing it from prodigies of natural force.”

“I know that the toad which lives in prison
is moist to our touch, and flabby
because it does not ever give the steady warmth of love,
but is thus from hidden desire. I no longer deny
cruelties are sweet; there are vines whose tendrils
split cathedral walls.”

“I am ill. Someone has touched me;
I need to lie down.
I would scatter dots on a sheet of paper, or practice
the art of geomancy,
if that would be enough.”

“In a window across the street the curtains
have moved.
A withered hand appears,
and the features of an old woman
near the glass. She allows the curtains to fall;
I awake to the beneficent touch
of my mother’s hand.
Is this a portent of things to come?”

“I must set down, before it is too late, the pink murex
my daughter this morning brought to me, naming
for my benefit each part. I scarcely listened;
not that this shell might be less lovely
than she presumes—but that her touch and voice,
the confident gestures of an infant hand,
proved almost more than I could endure.
Have we not lived deep-buried in the pages of
children’s books, in a world of high moral fable
and fantastic adventure, in times to make our blood
run cold? Is it not incumbent upon each of us
to keep safe from the holocaust all that matters?”

“We feel there is within each one of us
something which will not ever die. Our experience
and every dream conspires to counter revelation,
making us hold this fondly, as leaves touch
to their only tree, our one presumptuous hope.”

From Notes from a Bottle Found on the Beach at Carmel (1962) by Evan S. Connell

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