There must be another life, she thought, sinking back into her chair, exasperated. Not in dreams; but here and now, in this room, with living people. She felt as if she were standing on the edge of a precipice with her hair blown back; she was about to grasp something that just evaded her. There must be another life, here and now, she repeated. This is too short, too broken. We know nothing, even about ourselves. We're only just beginning, she thought, to understand, here and there. She hollowed her hands in her lap, just as Rose had hollowed hers round her ears. She held her hands hollowed; she felt that she wanted to enclose the present moment; to make it stay; to fill it fuller and fuller, with the past, the present and the future, until it shone, whole, bright, deep with understanding.
And she did not weep for herself, but for him: the hour after his birth she had looked in his dark eyes and had seen something that would brood eternally, she knew, unfathomable wells of remote and intangible loneliness: she knew that in her dark and sorrowful womb a stranger had come to life, fed by the lost communications of eternity, his own ghost, haunter of his own house, lonely to himself and to the world. O lost.
And left alone to sleep within a shuttered room, with the thick sunlight printed in bars upon the floor, unfathomable loneliness and sadness crept through him: he saw his life down the solemn vista of a forest aisle, and he knew he would always be the sad one: caged in that little round of skull, imprisoned in that beating and most secret heart, his life must always walk down lonely passages. Lost. He understood that men were forever strangers to one another, that no one ever comes really to know any one, that imprisoned in the dark womb of our mother, we come to life without having seen her face, that we are given to her arms a stranger, and that, caught in that insoluble prison of being, we escape it never, no matter what arms may clasp us, what mouth may kiss us, what heart may warm us. Never, never, never, never, never.
And when he kissed my neck I bit him long and hard on the cheek, and when we came out of the room, blood was running down his face. His poem, "I did it, I." Such violence, and I can see how women lie down for artists. The one man in the room who was as big as his poems, huge, with hulk and dynamic chunks of words; his poems are strong and blasting like a high wind in steel girders. And I screamed in myself, thinking: oh to give myself crashing, fighting, to you.
But in the night, lo every bird upon the bulging screen broke into song, lo every flower upon the tattered paper budded and foamed into blossom. Yes, even the green vine upon the bed curtains wreathed itself into strange chaplets & garlands, twined round us in a leafy embrace, held us with a thousand clinging tendrils.
The chestnut, darkening into summer, canopied them over; over their heads were its expired candles of blossoms, brown - dessicated stamens were in the dust. Over everything under the tree lay the dusk of nature. Only the cartracks spoke of ever again going or coming; all else had part in the majestic pause, into which words were petering out. This was not so much a solution as a dissolution, a thinning-away of the accumulated hardness of many seasons, estrangeness, dulledness, shame at the waste and loss. A little redemption, even only a little, of loss was felt. The alteration in feeling, during the minutes in which the two had been here, was an event, though followed by a deep vagueness as to what they should in consequence do or say. Impossible is it for persons to be changed when the days they have still to live stay so much the same - as for these two, what could be their hope but survival? Survival seemed more possible now, for having spoken to one another had been an act of love. No word, look or touch were for some time to be needed to add more: instinctively now they rested, almost apart, under the saturating chestnut, with what they knew at work in them slowly. Only kept from slipping from Lilia's lap by the idle hold of one of her hands, the letters were neither more nor less part of the scene than the spent match or the dropped shoe.
Next the gap remained a girl in a blazer collar up as though she expected the skies to fall, gold hair bent outward over the collar. She seemed, too, in the act of turning away, of indeed fleeing, but had not yet done so. She wore the air of someone who cannot help knowing she must be recognized, her not yet willing but lovely gaze rested, accordingly, upon nothing; or rather upon a point in the diminishing nothingness between him and her.
He swerved nearer the rail, crying 'Hullo!' to somebody behing her. There was, as she knew, no one. Their eyes met.
Honeysuckle sweetened the deepening hedges from beyond which breathed distances cool with hay. The land had not yet composed itself quite to sleep, for light was not gone and might never go from the sky. The air through which she was swiftly passing was mauve, and tense with suspended dew: her own beautiful restlessness was everywhere.