augury doggerel

Saturday, August 06, 2005

Salamandra salamandra

The twins are gentle women with matching speech impediments: identical mouths that cannot make an R in a country where R is growled. But I am quiet and foreign, it is dark, and they talk and build a fire and talk about building fires when they were girls.

Our host, a man from the Bering Strait, plays guitar, tells stories about border crossings and border guards, and goes in for the night. We are left: the twins, a businesswoman who is sour to things, a Ukrainian girl with braces on her teeth, a girl with a pale round face who helps in the house, a nearly deaf woman with a mute foreign man. We are happy but, to be good, I ask two loud laughing couples to come to the fire. They have just driven out of the city in one car.

The carload talks about what they do, which for the woman with the permanent is speech therapy in a prison. The rest of us are there in the dark. The twins grill bread and shish kebob and pass it round. The businesswoman pours wine. We lay wood on the fire and watch.

A black salamander walks out of the fire. When we take it in our palms it is soft and shining and as cool as the grass. We turn it over and its belly is an orange pattern of flame. We leave it near the wheat, which is green still, and it disappears. And when we go in we go in.


At 9:39 pm, Blogger schmutzie said...

Sweet. Comments. I just had to be the first one.

The image of the salamander emerging from the fire makes me want to reach for my Dictionary of Symbols by J. E. Cirlot.

At 10:58 pm, Blogger eeksypeeksy said...

> makes me want to reach for my
> Dictionary of Symbols

And yet that's what happened. I am a camera.

The speculation is that salamanders sleeping in firewood awake and flee when the wood goes on the fire -- I'm sure that's what I saw -- and that people seeing this began to believe salamanders walk through fire.

It's a small collage. The doubling of salamandra and the doubling of the twins. The speech impediments and the visiting speech therapist. The city people still talking of the city and the rest of us, longer in the country, being "in the now." Various possible communications deformities - the singer has an implied accent, the girl has braces, one is deaf, one is mute, and the twins have matching speech trouble. All around the fire, and the elemental animal walking out of the fire. It's a bit messy, a packet of vacation snaps that didn't all come out.

At 5:46 am, Blogger Anna said...

A pleasantly eccentric collection of guests.
I suppose the salamander was the Western equivalent of the phoenix.

At 11:32 am, Blogger eeksypeeksy said...


> I suppose the salamander was the
> Western equivalent of the phoenix.

Yes. The folklore is that the skin of the salamander is fireproof -- you could make a fireproof coat if you caught enough of them. Or so they believed. I hope no one ever tried. Poor wee devils.

Any idea what the etymology of "salamander" is? Maybe Arabic? (Al- > Sal- ???)

At 7:38 am, Blogger Anna said...

Don't know, I'll have a look at the OED when I next go the the library. Mine just says OF - Old French - shouldn't think that's the bottom of the well.

At 2:59 am, Blogger Rachel Rutherford said...

Your writing is like slowly panning across a drawing. Image, image, resonating against, image.


Post a Comment

<< Home