夫 が死んで8年。Francescaは67歳の誕生日を迎えました。昔からのド田舎の家に今も1人で住んでいます。毎年の儀式になったRobert Kincaidから来た手紙を読み返したところです。そして彼とのことを思い出しています。

彼との思い出:
彼をこの小説の舞台となった屋根付き橋に案内し到着し、家まで戻ってきました。冷たいお茶を出し、お互いが何をしているのかを語り合い、FrancescaはRobert Kincaidに夕食を食べて行かないかと誘い、Robert Kincaidも同意します。そして、夕食も終わり、2人は散歩に出かけ、戻ってきてブランデイを飲もうとしています。

Ancient Evenings, Distant Music (5)

But he failed and wondered again how it would feel to touch her skin, to put his belly against hers. The questions eternal, and always the same. The goddamned old ways, fighting toward the surface. He pounded them back, pushed them down, lit a Camel, and breathed deeply.
She could feel his eyes on her constantly, though his watching was circumspect, never obvious, never intrusive. She knew that he knew brandy had never been poured into those glasses. And with his Irishman’s sense of the tragic, she also knew he felt something about such emptiness. Not pity. That was not what he was about. Sadness, maybe. She could almost hear his mind forming the words:

the bottle unopened,
and glasses empty,
she reached to find them,
somehow north of Middle River,
In Iowa.
I watched her with eyes
that had seen a Jivaro’s Amazon
and the Silk Road
with caravan dust
climbing behind me,
reaching into unused
spaces of Asian sky.


As Francesca stripped the Iowa liquor seal from the top of the brandy bottle, she looked at her fingernails and wished they were longer and better cared for. Farm life did not permit long fingernails. Until now it hadn’t mattered.
Brandy, two glasses, on the table. While she arranged the coffee, he opened the bottle and poured just the right amount into each glass. Robert Kincaid had dealt with after-dinner brandy before.


解説:

But he failed and wondered again how it would feel to touch her skin, to put his belly against hers. The questions eternal, and always the same.

The goddamned old ways, fighting toward the surface.
■goddamned:ここでは「意味を持たない」と考えてよいでしょう。「ののしりや怒り・困惑・驚き・感嘆などの発声音。

He pounded(を何度も強く打つ) them back, pushed them down, lit a Camel, and breathed deeply.
She could feel his eyes on her constantly, though his watching was circumspect(用心深い), never obvious(明らかな), never intrusive(侵入的な). She knew that he knew brandy had never been poured into those glasses.

And with his Irishman’s sense of the tragic(悲劇的要素), she also knew he felt something about such emptiness.
■アイルランドには宗教的な対立から始まって歴史的に「非劇の島」のイメージがつきまとっています。

Not pity. That was not what he was about. Sadness, maybe. She could almost hear his mind forming the words:

the bottle unopened,
and glasses empty,
she reached to find them,
somehow north of Middle River,
In Iowa.
I watched her with eyes
that had seen a Jivaro’s Amazon
and the Silk Road
with caravan dust
climbing behind me,
reaching into unused
spaces of Asian sky.

■Middle River:屋根つき橋がかかっている川
■Jivaro:ヒバロ族。エクアドル・ペルー東部に住む。人間の首をミイラにする風習を持つ。
■a Jivaro’s Amazon:Amazonは「アマゾン川」の意の固有名詞ですがJivaro’sと修飾語を付けることで普通名詞化して使っています。

As Francesca stripped the Iowa liquor seal from the top of the brandy bottle, she looked at her fingernails and wished they were longer and better cared for. Farm life did not permit long fingernails. Until now it hadn’t mattered.
Brandy, two glasses, on the table. While she arranged the coffee, he opened the bottle and poured just the right amount into each glass. Robert Kincaid had dealt with after-dinner brandy before.