The Grass by Claude Simon

The Grass

by Claude Simon

Available on Amazon »

...perhaps reliving that same kind of afternoon when she (the old maid, his sister—and more than his sister: the woman (she was more than fifteen years older than he) who had brought him up and nursed him and virtually held him in her arms until he could stand up by himself), when she had appeared, carried by that same seven o’clock train, although then composed of an assortment of irregular cars in which she had travelled—or rather lived—for three days and three nights, with this difference, too, that it wasn’t seven but around three in the afternoon, and that it was the train from the day before arriving around twenty hours late, or today’s train four hours ahead of time, or perhaps even tomorrow’s and even the day after’s train with, in that case, a huge supply of hours ahead of time, for after this one and for almost a week, no other train came through From here, at least, nothing more could be heard. Through the trees the car was still visible on the top of the rise, and, to the left, the window with the closed shutters behind which the old woman was dying, motionless in her solitary bed, the sheet which was drawn up to her chin rising and falling with the regular rhythm of that continuous, calm and terrible rattle escaping from her lungs like the monstrous respiration of a giant, some playful mythological creature which had chosen its residence in the frail body of this woman in her death agony, so that these slow and interminable bellows could be heard like the trumpets of the Last Judgement,—dying, diligently dying, concentrated, focussed (solitary, arrogant and terrible) on the action of dying, in the dimness of the room where the summer’s powdery light penetrated only through the slit between the two closed shutters: a T whose crosspiece, shaped like a thin triangle lying base upward, corresponded to the interval between the top of the shutters and the window frame, and which slowly shifted from right to left, somewhat distended toward noon, then again diagonally lengthened again, all between morning and evening: like the initial of the word Time, an impalpable and stubborn letter trailing in the moribund odor, the stale and moribund fragrance hanging in the air: the smell of cheap eau de cologne the nurse bathed her in, and that ineffable, obsolete and ashen odor of faded bouquets which seems to float forever in the rooms of old ladies, around mirrors reflecting their worn faces, like the discreet, fragile, slightly rancid exhalation of faded days... “...And now she’s going to die, and there’ll be nothing left.” (the voice stopping suddenly breaking off, and Louise standing there, panting a little, as if surprised, furious at having talked so much, still staring at whatever it was that he couldn’t see—that he knew he couldn’t see, that he wouldn’t see, even if he turned around, staring in his turn over his shoulder in the direction where whatever it was seemed to be... “No,” she repeated submissively. But she continued looking at something in front of her which he could not see. ...“Then nothing,” she said (still staring through the trees, across the fields of that calm September landscape, at whatever it was that he could not see). “Nothing:...” But she has nothing, nobody, and no-one will mourn for her...
More Great Books
website by hamiltro