..First Glyph

The Sandra Texts
Scene 4

The degree to which a thing is passionate is often commensurate with the degree to which its end is violent. This is no new truth. So it was for Joshua and Katherine's season of lovemaking. Twice he exploded. Twice our young hero lost control of himself as never before he had, as never again he would. Coming from a nature as quiet as his, as inward, as detached, it was a shock to both of them.

"That is not me!" Joshua shouted into the lee of the first of these storms. He pointed at a glass he had just thrown across the room. The glass had been full of water. Joshua ripped at his coat then grittingly, his eyes wide, his fists jamming themselves fiercely into its pockets. He burst out into the mid-winter night.

The tender passions, the easy love of the summer previous ceased at the dawn of this new semester. The heaviest class-load of his career Joshua carried. He was editing, too, the news pages of the campus newspaper. He spent all of his hours, therefore, in class, at the paper, and studying. And Katherine spent all of her evenings, therefore, in their tiny one-room efficiency, neglected, taken for granted.

The stress of Joshua's workload and the mounting demands of pining Katherine planted in him a volatility. It was a volatility that sent him on this Friday night stomping through the central Kansas snow, rattled at how he had lost control of himself.

Joshua paced. Joshua paced and paced and cooled and wondered at himself until eventually Katherine found him. Katherine drove him back to thaw.

Later they mistakenly blamed the contradictory rhythms of their lives for this outburst. She, eight-to-five at the Russian language lab, few pressures, evenings free. He, harried around the clock. This they blamed, this and the lingering shock of their blissful summer's end. They were smarting under the onset of reality, they believed.

But a year later it happened again.

Not a glass this time, but a plate. Joshua stood washing the dishes in their Indiana apartment. Joshua stood arguing with Katherine in their Indiana apartment. Something she said did it. Or something he thought pushed him out of himself. Blindly, he thrust his fist into the sink. Suddenly she was leaping for the telephone. Suddenly he was staggering away from the sink, holding up his hand, stunned, goggling at a leaf of skin hanging off a finger, watching his blood soak into a rag. She drove him to the emergency room. A medic stitched him up. "Temper meets tableware," Joshua wryly explained.

But it was not so superficial. For, upon reflection, Joshua saw that this conflict was the same conflict as the year previous. It had not been those contradictory rhythms of their lives. It had not been that onset of reality. It had been something more.

"I can't study here," Joshua would tell Katherine. "Not on the couch, with the television going and all."

Katherine would frown beneath her coal-black hair. Her brows would knit beneath her coal-black hair.

"I have to have formal surroundings," Joshua would finish. "Silence."

And so to the library he went every night, like the most faithful of pilgrims, to continue his graduate work in Latin American Studies. And so at home Katherine would remain every night, neglected, taken for granted, to continue her graduate work in Russian and East European Studies. Joshua wanted to be left alone, to concentrate, to focus. Katherine did not want to be left alone. This was the conflict. But, even understanding this, Joshua could not compromise. And slowly Katherine stopped forgiving him.

They met in bed, or passing on campus like two comrades, or on Sundays for brunch and to sit in the park. This was their new season. By the beginning of their second year in Indiana their lovemakings had dwindled to arguments over lovemakings. And every bout of sex was to him a conquest, was from her a gift. Many types of air now, there were, aside from her breath. Many kinds of shapes now, there were, aside from his phallus. Time had become a clock. The season a semester.


John Dishwasher

The Gods of Our Fathers