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The Glassblower's Legacy

by Paul Kesler

 
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 find rest.
 
 

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