Mist blurring the Cevennes flora, Jacques meets a frail woman who speaks the undesirable tongue. Her eyes have a melancholic gaze, her eyebrows shaped in upward curves. A brown wave undulates around her ear. She tells her name with guttural strength, Ilse. The Cevennes rivers curl around limestones and smoothen magical gems; Jacques chose this forest for the secrets it fosters and the energy radiating from its soil. Clumsy wizard, he learned to harvest its healing power.
He gives Ilse a stone-infused brew to cure her confusing thoughts. She drinks the liquid imbued with minerals and magnetism. They lay together, he believes he can save her. The straight lines of her fragile body slowly distort into curves. It is not the first time her belly feels inhabited and she strokes the skin above the sprouting life.
Her pointing finger rubs the soft part of her palm, it meets her moving thumb. It flexes and lines appear as tides, an estuary. The ebbing stream of a river flowing down to its mouth. She lingers on the delicate articulation, velvet touch as purest particles of earth, soft sediment accumulated by the river bed. She stares at her hand and remembers walking with him along the delta. One road breaching the waters, she is stunned by the vastness of the sky and its reflection on the multiple pools where rivers split into lakes, swamps, and sea. A sinking land of bulls and horses, a gate to hell. At twilight he tells her about the reckless god stealing the sun’s charriot, struck dead by Zeus and falling in the river’s mouth. Blood orange sea reflected in a purple sky. At night he searches for the river constellation in which the stars of Cetus, the mystical whale, dips its paws. She fills her lungs with salty and rotten air and senses the power of corrosion.
– Do you feel the hidden patterns shining from beneath?
– Let me cut the thread that pulls me back to you over and over
Limpid and deceiving as a new moon sky, his obsession ignites. Jacques notices the other stars; they are carved on gates and mausoleums, etching invisible lines on the soil beneath our feet. Words echoing as bird tongues, symbols reflecting celestial bounds, family lignages intertwined to their grounds. He lays maps on the floor and traces connections lines. He charts multiple circles. He maps equilateral triangles and non-accidental alignments. Maps are rubbed repeatedly by his wrist, the oiliness of his skin impregnates the paper, fat graphite shines through faded folders. Dotted edges overlap and delineate his solitude. Isolated in a geometry of coincidences, his mind wanders in the infinite sky.
There are no mirrors in her room and her eyes struggle to find a focus point amongst the volumes wrapped in skin tones. One finger travels over the mounts and valleys of her wrist and marks sinuous loops around each of her knuckles. She walks to the sink, joins her hands in a diamond shaped cup as a temporary water recipient. Ripples blur the surface of her liquid mirror. Her wrists at her mouth, Ilse drinks the alcaline water tinted with metallic notes. Her confused spirit gets diffused.