Hairy butter

From Aidan Higgins’ richly allusive, sometimes foggy novel, Balcony of Europe, about Irish, English, and American expats in Spain in the 60s:

Hairy butter. The bolstered gallants. (That worse devil that’s between my thighs.) She’d go for that? Passionate, but envious of the male, the ordained taker. Que desea usted? Prefiere usted la carne al horno, alla perilla, hervida o guisada?

She wants you to come for supper, her husband had said, putting his hand on my shoulder. She told me to say a place is laid for you. She’s preparing something good. Won’t you come?

Your eyes, Charlotte. I see reality in their shades of colour — not aqueous, not vitreous — the deeper parts of Lake Garda on a sunny day.

Maud Gonne at Howth station waiting for a train. The sea-wall by the harbour, the high tide coming, over the sandbar on Claremont beach. The English actress Lily Elsie standing on Windsor platform waiting for a train. To see the deeps, the aspirations and the vanity of civilizations lost in the wandering depths of an ageing and vain actress’s eyes, an ageing ex-beauty waiting at Windsor for a slow local train.

The human body made up of liquid, flesh, bones, humours, chemicals, puff-paste. Its bond, tie, kinship with inorganic matter, that slowly encroaching activity, the waste of the world; and how through the single loved body all that is most appealing in that other person is represented, continually feted, yet continually being withdrawn. Love, that most despairing grip; the cruel fabled bird that pinches like a crab.

She was all that for me.

— Aidan Higgins, Balcony of Europe, pp 218-219.


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