Sunday, April 20, 2008

The Maidens Dedalus: Joyce Immitation

Three little maids, who, all unwary of Dilly Dedalus’s head darting past the open window, dance dangerously close to the boilbubbling pot. Careful, catch your hair and…
Dilly stops – J’arrête, tu arrêtes, elle arrête – outside the window where plumes of smoke issue forth from the pot of creation around which the witches wail. Dinner maybe? Je suis faim? No. wrong verb.

- Rosemary for remembrance, Katey’s voice moist and smogthick.
- Fennel and rue, Maggie with her maiden’s shriek.
- And deadmensfingers!
- Boody!

Probably not dinner. Would be an odd recipe that. Just as well: Boody’s in the kitchen with. Wouldn’t trust it.

Coming up behind Dilly Dedalus’s head full of food thoughts, a thumpclack thumpclack thumpclack. Head turns and oh! Sorry sailor, no coin even for myself. Old riddle out the window with he: four legs in the morning, three at noon already. Imagine without those crutches. Thump, thump, thump all day long.

Thumpclack fast approaching decapitated Dilly who three steps on two full legs and into the house but not before quick check Chardenal’s – here it is: jambe. Il a une jambe; better every day – hop: home. Where are the legs? Poor old Johnny won’t be marching home like that.

Whole place full of smoke. Boody’s doing no doubt. Dilly plodges to the kitchen where three little maids demurely sit, sweet paragons of etiquette, with soft silly smiles as yet unmet, three little maids are they. Not getting off that easily. Stand stark still till they flinch first. Surely Maggie will –
- Katey has a suitor!
- Maggie!

Up one, two, three they hop and envelop Dilly in shrill cries as they run two three about the kitchen, yelling explanations at the top of their lungs. Inside the pot a concoction to call forth a lover and cure spots of all sorts. Age spots they say. Never anything so ridiculous in my life.

-Ooh ooh! Look, Katey, it must have worked, Boody cackles, extending a crooked finger toward the window where thump and clack passes laboriously by. A right spring chicken if I don’t say so myself! Do not believe his vows, for he is broken!
- Boody! scolds everreproachful Dilly.
- Careful, dishonor on you if you your chaste treasures open to his one longest leg!
- Stop it Boody, it isn't him, says Katey dreadfullydefinsive Dedalus.
- Perhaps he came to you in disguise, a traveling minstrel. Not quite the romance you thought?
- For England…
- Sit down! All three! Dignified Dilly takes command of her unruly brigade. Now, Boody and Maggie, take the pot around back and dump it.
- Maybe Johnny out there wants a taste. Grow him a new one.
- Not one more word, Boody. Katey, stay here and help me put mother’s spices back on the rack.
- Why do I have to do the pot? cries little Maggie.
- Yours is not to reason why, yours is but to do and die. Now on to it.

Do and die? Must have picked it up somewhere. Stephen maybe.

- And none of you, not one word to father about this suitor nonsense. He’ll wring our necks and hang us on the tree when he gets home.

Outside the thumpclack slumps slowly away to Boody’s call:

Where are the legs with which you run? Hurrah, hurrah
Where are the legs with which you run? Hurrah, hurrah

- Knock it off Boody, it isn’t nice.

Agenbite of inwit. That’s what Stephen called it? Shouldn’t have thought the same thing about the poor blighter earlier. Yours is but to do and die – Morter? Mourir! – Lord Alfred someone. That was it. Stephen’s books.

The girls out back giggle gleefully as the little Dedalus maids boldly ride and well all into the valley of death.

No comments: