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Laura, Toucan Editrice

Friday, July 27, 2012

Prose of the Week: The Imagined Congestion of Hell, J.J. Steinfeld

After a lengthy and unplanned pause in the Poem/Prose of the Week feature, I've finally got it sorted! Welcoming back it's triumphant return is one of the better examples of breaking writing rules to fulfill a need. It's truly a wonderful way to kick off the rebirth of the Poem of the Week feature and the weekend, even if it is a smidge dark.  But now I'm rambling, so enjoy the microfiction and the weekend! -L.R.


    At the dinner party, long past the unrhythmic discussions of family, films, books, world events, politics, investments, infidelities, and sexual fantasies, a guidance counsellor at a local high school who had earlier revealed a twenty-year-ago nervous breakdown and a proclivity for blindfolded sexual experimentation, asks everyone left if they were to die in a room alone, bare except for a single painting from the history of painting, cave drawings to the most modern, including postmodern splashes of concept, he describes like an almost-drunk art historian, “What would you like that painting to be?” Then as he begins to sip another drink, now fully drunk, and the answers from those remaining leap forth, a romp through the history of art, until an elegant woman who had spoken little all night points to a kitchen wall with an oversized clock and says with the confidence of a person who has vanquished both boredom and trepidation in a single breath: “Hieronymus Bosch’s Garden of Earthly Delights, the panel dealing with the imagined congestion of Hell,” and a man who has the most colourful tattoo anyone at the party has ever seen, a tattoo that two of the people at the dinner party had earlier called a work of art, asks the woman why that painting of all paintings. “Because I wanted to see what awaits me,” she says with measured words bereft of irony and he falls painfully in love.

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