Where Does the Fury Come From?

Where Does the Fury Come From?
Catherine Arnold

Her rage is cracking slim and hard against me.
I am not seen.
She exists in the dilation of the pupil.
I am crouching,
trying to offer pity and love, as if they are
small discrete commodities:
cakes upon a plate.
As I offer them I become absurd, holding the tea set under my arm.

And where does the fury come from?
A moment ago, the child I knew—
the edges sharp, each line had come to grips—
and then a pause, a dimming.
The body seemed to waver, to fall within:
The body had succumbed.

To be so powerless, not to exist for her at all, pouring
the pot of useless words,
It’s okay, Stella. It’s okay.
My body beside hers
fixed in the rocking-trench of danger.
The face rattles. Chaos splits the eyes in half.

This is when we make the picturesque gestures:
I find myself putting my head in my hands, holding out my hands to her
(such gestures would be too theatrical upon the stage,
but this is where they are found and taken).

So she hits her head against the wall, and then
she rushes at the wall again, plotting
the coordinates of her position, making of her skull
the point of the pen.
No, Stella. No!

I place my hand between her head and the wall,
How has everything shrunk to this?
The need for the thick of my hand between the wall and her skull–
how can the terms be so small, so implacable?

And then she finds herself in the mirror,
Launches herself down the stream of the glass.
It’s okay, Stella. It’s okay. Holding out the teapot again.

But it’s not okay. Nothing in this world is okay. The stacks of quiet china falling…
nothing is…
It is all pouring, burning through,
and now she is driving her fingers into her eyes.
I fix her fingers with my own,
supplying my presence:
I am here.
But she does not want the here—the system
of apologies and haste–she wants
to find the rending place.

Everything I do during our waking
hours is an attempt to incite
recognition, to touch her fingers with my own,
to bring her eyes to mine.
But now, as if Hans Christian were here, the fingers have been cut off.
There is only the fire in which we are born–and it seems to have been going on
and again, she tries to find her body with the wall, her head
touching the points upon the graph,
and I muffle in with my restraining hands,
my voice changing, panic-narrow.
I am the wick and she the flame.
And I wonder, if this time,
I will be engulfed.

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