Rishikesh Maskar_Untitled

“Et avoir un corps, c’est la grande menace pour l’esprit.” – Marcel Proust

The absence of Proust’s brother while his mother’s split in two, good granny and rival mama, suggests the anxious splintering of an imaginal if not wholly conscious fratricide, as in the cage with two fighting rats brought into the room of the whorehouse he buys (remember the policeman who in ISOLT is brought by the parents of the young girl that Marcel brings home to salve his broken heart after Albertine leaves him for good, this policeman, after the family-not-much-appeased-but-paid departs, tells him there are better places, safe houses, for assignations with little girls, a taste the policeman confides he shares despite Marcel’s protestations of innocence) and wherein he would lie beneath starched yet softest of cotton, brilliantly white and giving off the faint if reassuring odor of antiseptic, that is, bleached sheets he meticulously tucks up to his neck appearing as if from the height of some mythically giant beanstalk a napkin huge as a cloud has floated down over Marcel’s bent and upstanding knees transformed by his childlike imagination into a lofty Alpine peak he expectantly peers over at a spot across the room no longer occupied by the muscle-bound day laborer who, instructed to strip naked, remain upright and fondle himself, does so before fruitlessly exiting the space at the foot of the bed which gives way to a masked man who holds aloft an iron cage wherein two rats (not as moments before, two cages each with  a fat rat complacently sprawled across wood shavings, motionless as if injected with morphine, so tranquil, so still is each in its isolation until united in one cage two rabid combatants) lock tooth and claw in a raging ball of hair-on-end and raw flesh rolling about the now wildly swinging cage elevated like a lamp over the sickly despair of Marcel achieving a visceral response sufficient to move his fanatically germ-phobic, fragile, hysterically enervated, aged-and-ailing, dysmorphic, dysphoric body pinioned for a fleeting flash beneath the phantasm of two huge (don’t-say-Jew) Persian eyes lit with the fire of an otherwise perfect brother’s fratricidal desire when, one rat dead, the other raised its gory head and anticlimactically said:  “Do tell, for Marcel.”

About the Author: HSD, Oakland High School, BA & MA, San Francisco State University, ABD aka CPhil, University of California, Berkeley, Allan Tinker taught in the Creative Writing Department, SFSU, and the Rhetoric Department, UCB, then with California Poets in the Schools, Poetry for the People and lastly, before retiring at age 65, The Beat Within, having raised two remarkable children with civil-rights-lawyer wife, Arlene Mayerson.

Artwork: Rishekesh Maskar