As if by chance, the morning after the power failure, I come across this diptych by Andrew Elliott in Mortality Rate (CBeditions, 2013), a fabulously original collection of poems I'm reading:
Sometimes the mind goes back where it came from
and finds there a boy in his bed squinting up at it.
The mind's made up, it sees no need to hang about.
It falls like a sword and, in the blink of an eye, finds
not one boy split in two but two boys looking up at it,
each boy with his hand on the other boy's mouth
as if even now, this long after lights out, a master
prowling the corridor might stop to shine his torch in.
The danger passes and the mind imagines being a woman
who has never been married, never had children,
yet finds herself kneeling by the bed of a boy
in whose eyes she can see herself - calm, kind,
more beautiful than Bergman... - but who appears
not to know that she's there and so continues to do
what he's doing, allowing her to slip her hand under
under the clothes to keep from being stained the linen.
La douce lueur du comique. That's Kundera in "What's a novelist," part 4 of Le Rideau. Elliott, I'm thinking, but I might change my mind when I've read more, descends from Cervantes and Kafka. He has this wonderful way of taking the vehicle--or is it the tenor?--let me look that up, it's the vehicle--of a metaphor and running with it, as in
The heat was like an elephant in the room: it stood there only adding to the heat.
We've called up the New York zoo. When the man asked, Asian? African? our silence
must've told him all he needed to know. He sighed and said, What's the address?
Was there anything we should do in the meantime? The man had already hung up.
There must be a word for this device, other than surrealism, I mean. I suppose it's what happens when Gregor turns into a beatle: fantastic (metaphorical) situation, taken literally. But the esthetic choice is also saying something about existence, and this is what I can't quite yet get my mind around.