Sauntering down Rue Couillard, I got the urge to enter a boutique whose window display was more attractive than the rest. Once inside I circled the shelves until, on a whim, I decided to buy a ring I glimpsed among several others. “A poison ring,” the saleswoman said, “from either Thailand or Indonesia or Asia,” while apologizing for her ignorance. The ring is made of silver. On each side are shapes that could be numbers or letters or a meaningless floral motif. The top, a domed cover, opens. Inside there is room for three heart pills or any other aspirin-type tablet that can treat those strange and mysterious maladies that darken the gaze of the living or take them away, for a brief moment’s vertigo, to a better world. I bought the ring because of the word poison, which intrigues and fascinates me. I momentarily enjoyed toying with the idea that in just a few seconds you can go from one world to another, have death on your tail and down your throat, offer up your breath and your chest to fate. There’s also the top, so highly polished it becomes a mini-mirror where I can see my anxious and slightly deformed face, like in some antique device for measuring anxiety that has remained suspended above the void.
I slid the ring onto my left ring finger. As I caressed the dose of imaginary possibilities contained in it, I thought fleetingly that something was going to happen to me. I like the ring. It makes me feel anxious. It tells me I haven’t yet recovered from the images of Mother’s agony. The ring reminds me that we are constantly walking through silences.
-- Nicole Brossard, Yesterday at the Hotel Clarendon (trans. by Susanne de Lotbinière-Harwood)