December 20th, 2002

Celestial Arc

  Holmes I


"Now you're talking," Chuck said, peering through a loupe at one of Raymond's negative strips. "Nice shots. Especially the frozen ropes. But I'm going to run only one. Guess why."
"Because Larry Holmes is not a Muhammad Ali."
Chuck squinted. "Christ, now you can read my mind. Which do you prefer, frame 14 or 25?"
Raymond took the strip, held it up to the flourescent light fixture in the ceiling.
"The rope is clearer in 14."
"Done."

The next day in his new apartment Raymond continued unpacking and sorting through the boxes. When he got to the one marked "Eve," he paused. In it were three years worth of cards, letters, and photographs.

As he carried the box toward the closet, its bottom unfolded. A fluttering rush. The hardwood floor was covered with memorabilia.

Where was the packing tape? Over there, on the credenza.

Raymond fixed the box, then knelt down and began to refill it.

He picked up a rectangle of white cardboard, on which Eve had pasted a magazine halftone of curved-necked bird with a long, sharp beak. On the other side was a clip from The New Yorker, a poem, "Black Coat," by Ted Hughes. Underneath was her scrawled sentence. "Sweetie: Thought you'd like this."

Of course he’d liked it. Ibis was a rhyme for Hughes' reference in the poem to a brown-eyed iris. In the bird's eye was a double reflection—a connection to the poem's allusion to diplopia, and to the Plath/Hughes emotional arc as well.

Arc! A rope frozen over the head of a boxer. The apparent path taken by a celestial body above and below the horizon. Something there but never actually seen.

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