Keziah's Geometry Lessons

from the world of H.P. Lovecraft's "Dreams in the Witch House"

“Something’s not right
about Keziah.”
So spoke the tutor
old Mason,
the defrocked minister
hired for his
only daughter’s lessons
in Latin and Greek,
geometry and music.

The old man sighed.
Five tutors had fled
at the sight of his hideous daughter.
This one had stayed
three months —- the record.
She labored him, not her, her,
in Latin; her Greek,
the tutor felt,
was somehow pre-Homeric,
littered with words not in
his Hellenic lexicon.

“Is it the Greek again?
She’s stubborn.”

The tutor — his name was William —-
waved his thin hand,
which seemed thinner
if that was possible,
than when he arrived.
(He had been eating
noticeably less at table
since moving his lodgings
to the upper garret).

“No, the geometry.
The things she says,
although she knows her Euclid,
are troubling me. She draws,
first squares, then cubes,
then hints at something
unrepresentable —-
a cube cubed
or transcended,
each of its six facets
exploded
to fifty-four invisible forms —-
yet only visible, she says
by standing outside
and seeing from above
.

‘The cube I draw,’
she tells me
‘is but a mouse-hole
to the higher space.
Can ye not see there?’ ”

“Is she mad,
do you think,
or a kind of genius?”
the father muses.

“She lacks constraint,”
the tutor speculates.
“It’s not the way
a young woman thinks.”
He pauses.
“Or a Christian.”

“Indulge her,”
old Mason tells him,
“for neither cross
nor catechism
can come near her.
She will not leave this house
till I can marry her
to some doddering scholar
or ship captain derelict,
someone who will find her
amusing, her dowry
adequate, so long
as he expects no peace,
or children.”

The tutor gleans
at last, some sense
of Mason’s burden, the why
of his abandonment
of Bible and congregants.
Keziah was God’s
affliction for his own
pride of intellect,
a strident mind
in a hunch-dwarf body,
his penance
to be her keeper.

The tutor withdrew,
prepared for bed,
washed himself everywhere,
lay naked
the better to attract
his guilty pleasure,
his imaginary lover
by whose graces
he no longer need commit
the sin of self-pollution,

to await its coming,
to please its inquisitive,
pulsating and thrusting
machinery,
when it arrived,
not through the door
or window,
but from the crazed-angle corner
he filled with plaster
to unsquare it
and through whose polyhedrous
mouse hole
it came
a congeries of bubble-forms
to a geometer
as fair as Helen
before even Menelaus
took her, let alone
Trojan Paris,

with whom he flew
rhapsode ecstatic,
feeding and fed upon,
sung to and singing,
his Bible too,
unopened for weeks now,
turned down in the corner;

April’s end his own end
as she witch-waltzes
him to a Greek Walpurgis
he neither expects
nor wishes to survive.

His climax-death
will span eons and galaxies,
feelers and tentacles a-quiver,
hydrofluoric neurons
in orgasmic tremor,
worlds colliding, orbits
asunder, seismic,
ichthyc, arachnid,
reptilian pleasuring.
Keziah likes him.
And whom Keziah loves,
she shares with her gods.

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