She was fat the first time we saw her, large, brilliantly beautiful, fat. She seemed for this moment that never again returned to be almost a matron, someone real and sensible who carried money to the bank, signed papers, had curtains made to match, dresses hung and shoes in pairs, gold and silver, black and white, ready. What a strange, betraying apparition that was, madness, because never was any woman less a wife or mother, less attached; not even a daughter could she easily appear to be. Little called to mind the pitiful sweetness of a young girl. No, she was glittering, somber, and solitary, although of course never alone, never. Stately, sinister, and absolutely determined.
The creamy lips, the oily eyelids, the violent perfume—and in her
voice the tropical l’s and r’s. Her presence, her singing created a
large, swelling anxiety. Long red fingernails and the sound of
electrified guitars. Here was a woman who had never been a Christian.
To speak as part of the white audience of “knowing” this baroque
and puzzling phantom is an immoderation; and yet there are many persons,
discrete and reasonable, who have little splinters of memory that seem
to have been personal. At times they have remembered an exchange
of some sort. And always the lascivious gardenia, worn like a large,
white, beautiful ear, the heavy laugh, marvelous teeth, and the splendid
archaic head, dragged up from the Aegean. Sometimes she dyed her hair
red and the curls lay flat against her skull, like dried blood.