In the Plaster

from Life in the Folds

Big mouth who no longer mouths off, the sergeant, I would stick him in plaster. Mouth who went to rejoin the cemetery of beggar-mouths I left behind me, in the cemetery of plaster where they are “taken” in mid-invective, the woman in mid-scene, the parents in mid-curse, the pawns and the race of agents of discipline in mid-reprimand.

When, as a child, I saw the plaster-taking for the first time, I had a shock and became meditative. I could not detach myself from the spectacle. It was only a spectacle still, but I felt obscurely, the way my spirit was seized up to the kidneys, that here was something I too would have to use one day.

In it I have immobilized irritated hinderers, some thirsty for command, some cocks of the village or of the assembly or party or even the salon–employing there more plaster than a mountain doctor ever ordered at the height of ski season, when presumptuous sots set themselves at whim to change style mid-descent, in the brilliant weight-bearing snow (which will carry them in any fashion, even both legs broken).

. . .Let’s not speak of breaks, but of immobilization. Peace. Marvelous, profound, spread out. Without any more desire. Yes, I would have known it. Every man, even if he has a lethargic temperament, can say as much. Myself, I would not have obtained the same result without plaster.