Lately I’ve been thinking about lines from Anne Carson’s The Beauty of the Husband:
Fair reader I offer merely an analogy.
What is being delayed?
Marriage I guess.
That swaying place as my husband called it.
Look how the word
Carson is not, I think, referring to the delay that soon-to-be lovers employ to heighten anticipation, or the delay that occurs when something goes wrong, though that is closer to it. I think of a delay in this instance as putting something off. Like you put a wedding off.
The wedding’s off.
I’m putting life off.
I’m just not ready.
It is not suspension—that is another thing it could be but is not—for suspension requires that the event begin to unfold before it can suspended. In a putting off, the put off is here but has not yet arrived—it is the wedding day but the wedding has not begun, I am living but life has not started. A putting off is a suspension like a corpse is suspended—death has arrived but Death has not yet come to claim the body.
Is that not what we expect? Death to come on a white horse and bear the body away?
We use that image to distance ourselves from death because death is everywhere. Death the horseman externalizes it. Look, we can say, there he is. He is not within us.
But it goes without saying.
As the living fear death, I too put off something that resided already within me. I do not know whether I externalized it, or if I did into what.
That was something of a lie. I do know that I externalized it, and I know into what.
Delay comes filtered through French from the Latin laxare, to slacken, undo.
A loosening of what?
Of tension, of gravity. As if all things in their tight orbits around us might be fed more length and made to grow distant from the center, take longer to come round to where they began.
Where I began.