When the glassblower died, his house remained.
No one bought it, for it stood in a part of town for which no one had much
use. Seasons made their rounds, and his home was delivered to its former
population of slaves. These creatures, mere envelopes of glass, coiled
through the gathering weeds --- reflections of themselves scribbled the
walls when the sun passed overhead.
Within, the sculptured "self-portrait" of
the artist glared through a window, peering from the midst of creation.
A swirling stream of glass spun from its open mouth, a sort of umbilical
cord that joined to a female form nearby. This, a visitor might presume,
was the fused inamorata the master never had, or a replica of a wife no
one had seen. Further back in the room, glass children sat, but only half-formed,
their hands fondling delicate implements. Were they lounging, merely waiting
for some private amusement to commence? Or were they bored with the prospect
of a life that would never begin, in a limbo of vitreous stolidity?
In one room, glass clocks loomed in the
silence, pendulums wagging like mechanical dogs. Chandeliers, slashing
the light, glared down at them with multifaceted eyes: insects dreaming
of paradise. In other rooms, spectral horses galloped --- as if to mock
the rituals of nature, the glassblower had introduced cats and squirrels
to their pregnant bellies. The small animals seemed to jostle as you watched,
passengers on a ride to nowhere. Why were their eyes so frightened, with
all of time before them?
Still another room, walled obscurely from
the rest, housed a consortium of tongues. Glass tongues, frozen in a paradox
of motion, for the light passing through them spun filagrees of figures
on the walls --- as the sun or moon rose, the figures seemed to bicker,
small battles would break out, and, at
times, one would fall, or retreat to a
distant point of vantage. Those from town who had passed through the house
made different claims for these creations. They were tongues of fire; to
others, tongues of smoke meandering through the shadows; to others, tongues
of grass, or tongues of frozen waves. Meanwhile, the strange panorama continued
on the walls, as if constructing a film that might never end.
Below, in the deepest room, was a prodigious
pool. But fish, which seemed to swim in its depths, were only glass relics
feeding on surfaces no one could see. And, beyond this invisible bottom
were further glittering fragments, the lurid simulacra of stars that swam,
like fish themselves, in a reflected universe. Other moons soared there,
other suns. And every so often a star would shake loose, a meteor of glass
would rise in the pool, swim to the surface, and break free. One might
follow with incredulous eyes, expecting it to fall, to prove another illusion.
But it would go on, veering at times, but resolutely onward, till it plunged
through the pool of the sky.....
Ghosts still prowl the glassblower's house,
but they are only specters of light. They will go on, as long as the house
is unclaimed, to float through walls or nearby trees, while visitors catch
these strange perturbations of a madman's brain, writing their curious
histories. The rooms remain, closed but somehow connected, as if their
separate rituals will one day fuse in a
vast reticulum of meaning, and the ghosts