PRINT March 1988


From Soul to Butterfly: Champagne to Big Dipper

The Emotional Derby


The Jealous Lady of the Electric Wheelchair
The Stand-In Love Actor
Two Nurses
The Pollen Tester Surrounded by Magnetic Light Rings A Camel

Location: A Garden in the California Desert

On the terrace of the house “She” leans exhausted against the wall,
Staring astonished at her snake-bitten arm.
The images retreat behind her, lining up like waves, one behind another.
“A bite is a kiss with a sting,” “He” whispered last night into her ear’s abyss.
A tremor of warmth rises in her, raising the column of mercury to the height of the tallest palm.
A large boudoir mirror crashes down from above, splintering into thousands of pieces on the stone floor before her.
Recoiling in shock, “She” presses her body to the next window niche.
A whip hisses past her head, cracking into the midst of the dancing mirror shards, stirring them into a sparkle of dawnlike disorder.
“She” staggers ahead.
The Jealous Lady of the Wheelchair stares at her triumphantly,
Rolling up closer and raising her arm for a new, more threatening attack.
“She” ducks self-protectively out of the way, stumbling into the mad disarray of the glittering fragements of broken glass. The clouds shimmer sideways beneath her.
Like a hare, “She” runs frantically into the garden, relentlessly followed by the whip-wielding Lady in the Electric Wheelchair.
“She” runs past the dancing nurses, who are swinging their phallic-shaped butterfly nets in the desert winds.
Their caps and hips gyrate in lingering echo of the samba rhythm of the night before.
They also ignore the surrounding butterflies in their gentle free flight.
Only the Stand-In Love Actor crawls around on the ground, totally transfixed by a resting butterfly.
In her flight, “She” almost trips over him, avoiding his suddenly raised net, pursued on her heels by the Lady in the Wheelchair, who is hoping to cut her off at the pass.
“She” disappears behind a large palm tree, stepping by accident on a gigantic pollination broom.
The broom catapults forward and hits her across the neck,
Surrounding her in a cloud of golden pollen.
Sneezing, “She” seeks the cover of a hibiscus bush.
A pair of garden shears moves slowly through the leaves, snapping next to her ear at a sumptuous, pink blossom, and cutting it off with alarming quickness.
The Pollen Tester’s head and her shocked head appear out of the bush simultaneously, staring at each other.
Their double scream frightens a flock of dark birds out of the palm tree.
Meanwhile the Lady of the Wheelchair, with the aid of binoculars, has spied her prey once again.
She rushes toward the bush in a cloud of dust.
A coconut falls from the tree and hits the startled Pollen Tester directly on the head.
He falls back, disappearing silently into the bush once again.
“She” also crawls behind the bush.
A butterfly lands on the bare arm of the Love Actor.
Enchanted, he blows gently into its wings, and reaches out to catch it.
“She” and, in hot pursuit, the hysterical Lady of the Wheelchair encircle the bedazzled hunter.
“She,” stepping deftly on the butterfly net, causes it to spring into the air, gaping open, and finally falling upon the head of the pursuing lady.
Slowly a camel trots into the garden.
The wheelchair, no longer weighted by its passenger, chases “She” farther along a narrow path in the direction of the swimming pool.
A deck chair on the other side attempts a clumsy backward somersault, then collapses, quite exhausted.
Desperately, “She” shrinks away from the wheelchair, turning and running directly toward the swimming pool.
The Lady of the Wheelchair suddenly appears standing upright on both legs in front of the pool.
The whip rises again to strike “She.”
Wheelchair and whip whizz menacingly toward her at the same moment.
Her only escape is to dive into the water and remain submerged there.
The wheelchair speeds straight on, crashing into the back of the whip lady.
Hurling her into the water, smashing down on top of her, breaking her spine.
Apparatus and body sink together to the bottom of the pool.
“She,” totally shaken and exhausted, pulls herself out of the water, and runs away as fast as she can.
The sound of a departing car wakes “He” up.
Sleepily, he extends his fingertips across the surface of the hospital bed.
The black leather feels cold and moist to his touch.
“She” has departed long ago.
The camel totters aimlessly toward the pool.
It carefully examines the surface of the water with its hairy tongue and starts to drink in greedy gulps.
The blue shadow of the sunken woman curls in little ripples across the surface of the water.

Rebecca Horn, Odenwald, January 7, 1988

Translated from the German by Charles V. Miller.