Issue 81, Fall 1981
translated by Lydia Davis
The Knight of the Trepan is Christ, who lives in me and who passes through my skull day after day like a needle. He wears leather breeches that resemble English silks. His face is encased in a helmet that shows only two glass eyes and a mouth with moving wet lips. He bends me over against the table and rapes me. While this is happening, I read the Gospel according to St. John, which gives such a good account of how this man is going to die some day. The thought of it makes me come, and Christ, believing that his sex alone is the cause of my explosion, covers me with kisses that bloom like mildew on my lips (the smell of incense and a garden under the rain). When he goes away, I trace in the air the sign of the fire that will presently turn this noble soul into a vulgar old man with stale teeth, bleary eyes, and a limping gait.
“Ah,” he says to me sometimes, “I swear that I love you, princess of my oblivion, you are destined to pursue me, you are my equal and far better than the Virgin.”
But the Knight of the Trepan does not understand that I am the terrible pregnant Virgin whom the Mystic speaks of so joyfully, and that in this heavy belly a child is not growing, but is being reabsorbed, a child whose cry would be enough to deafen the universe. When he has changed himself into a pin, then we shall see which of us possesses virtue and innocence, which of us is master of destiny, which of us is the other’s chasuble.
That morning, Antigone went off on tiptoe. That morning, Antigone, having turned up her petticoats so as to let her knees shine in the sunlight of that ineffable season, opened the door facing Montmartre and mingled with the Sunday crowd. That morning, Antigone opened her eyes on a dry world, and dipped her fingers in the consecrated water of a tragedy which attained one of the summits of thought that morning. That morning, at the river’s edge, Antigone began to laugh, her laugh was softer than the night and deeper than Hell, and very calmly fell asleep without one dream in the sickening mob of the perjurer. That morning, Antigone left her father’s house, threw the key into the Rhône and into the Saône, and when everything was as clean as a kitchen on Saturday night, she squatted in the grass and gave herself up to her creative follies, whose preamble has the form of a sex and whose conclusion can only be read in the stars at the moment they explode and fall. That morning, Antigone went out with her hair dishevelled, her arms crossed, her eyes as keen as swords; and the Lord of the Trepan (death take his soul!) watched her run away, his eyes bathed in tears. That morning—yes, that morning, Antigone went out alone that morning. And that was the beginning of the miracle.