In the rare-poison room (Donald Barthelme)

“NOW I have been left sucking the mop again,” Jane blurted out in the rare-poison room of her mother’s magnificent duplex apartment on a tree-lined street in a desirable location. “I have been left sucking the mop in a big way. Hogo de Bergerac no longer holds me in the highest esteem. His highest esteem has shifted to another, and now he holds her in it, and I am alone with my malice at last. Face to face with it. For the first time in my history, I have no lover to temper my malice with healing balsam-scented older love. Now there is nothing but malice.” Jane regarded the floor-to-ceiling Early American spice racks with their neatly labeled jars of various sorts of bane including dayshade, scumlock, hyoscine, azote, hurtwort and milkleg. “Now I must witch someone, for that is my role, and to flee one’s role, as Gimbal tells us, is in the final analysis bootless. But the question is, what form shall my malice take, on this occasion? This braw February day? Something in the area of interpersonal relations would be interesting. Whose interpersonal relations shall I poison, with the tasteful savagery of my abundant imagination and talent for concoction? I think I will go around to Snow White’s house, where she cohabits with the seven men in a mocksome travesty of approved behavior, and see what is stirring there. If something is stirring, perhaps I can arrange a sleep for it — in the corner of a churchyard, for example.”

From Donald Barthelme’s novel Snow White.


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