Monday, September 07, 2009

Let it live!

In my country, we prefer the tender hardships of spring and its barely-feathered birds to lofty goals.

Truth is waiting for dawn beside a candle. The window is filthy and neglected. But this doesn’t matter to the one keeping vigil.

In my country, we don’t question an emotional man.

There isn’t a dark shadow on the capsized boat.

Practically not saying hello is unknown in my country.

We only borrow that which can be given back many times over.

There are leaves, - yes, many leaves - on the trees in my country. The branches are free not to choose to bear fruit.

We don’t believe in the goodwill of the conqueror.

In my country, we give thanks.

René Char

Friday, September 04, 2009

Six Boxes

The boxes have arrived and I have put them on the kitchen floor.

I open the first and before I pull back the last flap, I imagine how soon I will be already slightly familiar with the contents that I have never seen. I pause and let that future recede a few seconds. And then I lift out the small bolts of silk. Their circus-like sheen and rattan smell turn the kitchen into a souk. The evening draws back to an afternoon I spent years ago wandering around a warehouse on vacation. Already then, I noticed how outmoded anything exotic really is. I saw Nathalie walk towards me, having finally found me among the packed acreage of rice bags, dried fish and cartons of plastic utensils. She told me that she was looking forward to dinner. I try to remember where we ate. Is this something we can keep? But there is nothing there now. Thinking back is like being alone in a cinema with a too many embellishments: velvet curtains, chandeliers, volute carvings in the armrests.

The second box is on the tip of my tongue. Of course, an illusion, a trick. Prestidigitation. Let me draw it for you. The line is not solid, but marbled like from a piece of charcoal. This makes it gritty. Here we go. It looks like a face: dirty, hot and wet. This must have been when we played soccer in the yard with a tennis ball. My teeth tingled with the taste of chewed sand. I spat and coughed as it snaked down my throat. We were three-nil ahead. I think at that time we said “our favor” . This is the driftwood theory. Not embellishments but sediments: dirt collecting in the lines around your eyes. Pools of mud running from your sideburns.

Box number three. It’s such a distinctive box: no longer an ordinal but a cardinal number. I could have started here, or at anytime. It doesn’t matter. It is an epic box: in medias res. Like something from the Greeks or Romans. Let’s get to the point: Dido was never going to get Aeneas, so why bother. When you climbed the steps of the amphitheatre, the sound came from all around us. But then, this is just an exception to the relentless logic, the irresistible sequence of things. The starting point is now, and the universe expands equally outwards from wherever you are.

I have put the fourth box on the table, and scratched the veneer. Christ! And when I lifted it up, the staple has caught the needlepoint place mat and picked a hole in it. Naturally, I turned the box over to inspect the damage and its breakable contents broke in an avalanche onto the floor. A heap of porcelain figurines gesticulating their maimed stumps. The jagged noise scared the cat who sought solace among the knick-knacks on the bookshelves. Why not, the attachable schnook pencil eraser has spun into the washing-up, sending a greasy wave across the bench onto my shirt. Where else?

The fifth box is the oldest. It’s not creepy. It contains just one object: the sixth box. So why the fifth box? If you look at the sixth box you will notice that it was one of six boxes: not these six boxes, but another six boxes. And where are the five other boxes? Well, they were supposed to have been in the fifth box with the sixth box. Their sixth box, which is now ours.

Wednesday, September 02, 2009

The Lark

The sky’s final ember and the day’s first heat,
It remains crimped in the dawn and sings about the agitated earth,
Carillion-master of its breath and free on its way.

Fascinating, we kill it filled with wonder.

René Char

On the tympanum of a Romanesque church

This is the house for the abandoned of God.
Bent backed and blue-stoned.

The hopeless greed of the dark,
Endlessly pursued
In its love, in its skeleton.

The truth of secret tears,
The greatest offering of winter sleep.

René Char

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