The woodcarver’s wife


The man sits quietly on a short red stool. He holds a knife in one hand, a piece of hard wood in the other. He is carving. He stops periodically to smoke. He smokes different things: sometimes he smokes tobacco, sometimes ganja, sometimes an herbal mixture that soothes his lungs while lightly scarring them at the same time. An anesthetic smoke. His first choice is for tobacco mixed with ganja, a nice blend that elevates the spirits and focuses the mind, and in this state many beautiful wood carvings are made. He sells carvings. The man sells wood carvings to another man, who lives just far enough away and in just a big enough city to have an apartment in a high rise, with stairs and elevators that sometimes work, according to those who may know.

The man who lives in a high rise works in a coffee shop where there is internet. He works in an internet café, and from here he sells wood carvings to import export businesses. He makes some money doing this, and does not try to elicit information about bank accounts from old people in other countries, even though it is well known, according to the internet, that this is a quick and easy way to make moneys that may or may not be illegal, depending on the country of origin and the country of arrivals, and the regulations governing each.

So, the woodcarver sits quietly on a short red stool, making wood carvings that his business associate will sell for him. And because of this business relationship, he will eventually have enough money to go to a different internet café without his business associate. There he will see, with the help of his nephew (who guides the mouse through many incarnations) the grand scope and potential that makes sales a mighty elixer, a draft for the very thirsty. He sits in the internet café and rubs the mouse like a magic lantern and a genie appears.

“What may I do for you?” the genie says. Around his head and in a column to the right, popup ads try to distract the man on the short red stool, who pushes them away, ghosts that they are, and forces himself to focus on the genie.

“Genie,” he says, “I want tobacco and ganja and hard wood with nice grain, and a knife that will never dull, and a wife with no voice, and children who will make me rich. And I wish for riches, horses and palaces and cheeses and wines and mistresses, and I wish to have power over the religious men and the politicians.”

“Okeedokee,” says the genie. “That’s it, then, and have a nice day,” and he disappears into the dissipating fog of three wishes granted. The man on the short red stool stands up and looks around him. He is surrounded by wealth: beautiful fine grained wood, a knife more splendid, shining and sharp than anything he’s ever seen before in his life, a wife who places a heated cloth on his tired shoulders and leans against him: she smells of sandalwood and patchouli, and he is aware that his hardwood is harder than he’s ever known it to be. He blushes, and the sky is a hot blue with white sand and red light streaking across the sky where the carrier jets pass, where they will land and collect his goods, his wood carvings, grown larger now, complex, some as big as a city street, and he is overcome by visions.  Hours pass, then days and weeks.

One day, finding himself alone in the garden where the heavy fruit is ripe and the afternoon is sleepy, he steps outside of his house, his palace with the ornate hand-carved hard wood gates and he begins calling for his wife, over and over again, as the sun goes down.  She does not answer: without a voice, she does not pray; without a voice, she does not sing to the children; without a voice, she does not lean against him; without a voice, she does not lay the warm cloth on his tired back. After many hours or days or years of looking, he finds himself lying in the dark, waiting for sleep to take his wishes away.

4 Responses to “The woodcarver’s wife”

  1. 1 Tek April 22, 2009 at 7:16 am

    the loss of a woman’s voice…we don’t know we miss it.

  2. 2 Lollyloo April 22, 2009 at 8:36 pm

    Tek is a sharp reader. She hones right in on the destination of this fable, despite the distracting charm of the Internet cafe.

  3. 3 Teresa April 23, 2009 at 5:30 pm

    Came to realize that I’m telling some stories related to my work, helping people regain their voice. And of my friends who are traveling and working in Africa. And of A.S. Byatt, who tells the best modern fables ever. So many kinds of voices, eh?

    Thanks LL and Tek for your feedback – say, I’ve been thinking about reorganizing my pages here into different collections – what do you think?

    • 4 Tek April 24, 2009 at 12:10 pm

      what would indicate belonging to each collection?
      and thanks for the compliment lollyloo. I’ve continualy found gems in Teresa’s writings. it’s so lovely!

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