From Robert Stone, “Children of Light”

She let her song rise again and spread out her arms. In Louisiana the old black people called that kind of singing a bajo or banjo song, a homesick blues for where you’ve never been, which for them was Africa but for her was God only knows.

Be there, Lu Anne sang. Be there, Sweet Jesus. Be there.

She leaned back in the lounger, exhausted, When she turned to the mirror she saw her own secret eyes. No other person except her children and the Long Friends had ever seen them. She had used them for Rosalind, but so disguised that no one looking, however closely, could know what it was they were seeing in her face. None of her children had secret eyes.

She got to her feet, transfixed by what she saw in the mirror. The shock made her see stars as though she had been struck in the face. She watched the secret-eyed image in the glass open its mouth; she tried to look away.

Clusters of hallucination lilacs sprang up everywhere, making a second frame for the mirror, sprouting from between her legs. In her terror she called on God.

Suddenly the place was filled with ugly light, sunlight at once dingy and harsh. Trash light. Josette was standing in the open doorway, wide-eyed and pale. She took a step backward, her lip was trembling. It was the first time Lu Anne had ever seen the Frenchwoman show anything other than unsmiling composure.

Look, you little bitch! Lu Anne thought. Then she was not sure whether she had not said it aloud. Look at my secret eyes!

About Eve Tushnet

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