Thursday, March 20, 2008

tendon slides over bone

self portrait on tuesday

(for azn)

In the Greek narratives that precede Judaism, renewal tempers dissolution. Roses bloom when Persephone rejoins Demeter ever Summer. The lilt of Orpheus's lyre calls back Eurydice. But the Old Testament refuses Lot's wife the luxury of nostalgia. Obliterated for a backward glance, she is permitted neither reprieve nor the solace of sorrow. Like Ovid's tales, her story involves metamorphosis, but here there is nothing transformative. In lines of verse that stretch over every story the way tendon slides over bone, Ovid shapes the perversly half-human into beautiful form. Extinction translates into alchemy, as bones blur into water and the shine of blonde hair dapples in quaking Aspen leaves.

The destruction of Lot's wife, for obvious reasons, involves no such sensuality. Homesickness for a distempered place destroys her, and then God annihilates her memory.

--Michael Katz, "Soulful Modernism" Southwest Review 93 (1) 2008