Seasoned departure

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“…I used to think we escape time by disappearing into beauty. Now I see the opposite. Beauty reveals time.” from “A Lesson from the Earth” -Anne Michaels

The last year has delivered quite a walloping in terms of death.

Most are not exactly sudden, as people in our periphery grow tired, frail, ill or some combination of these traits. None necessarily fatal on its own, together create a kind of fatigue that can trigger the onset of departure. Late last year, my mother’s brother died, which was devastating for her, and left a gaping wound in the heart of our small family. During 2017 many other people succumbed. My mother’s cousin Terry, unexpectedly. Then my father’s good friend, Larry, died, not necessarily expectedly, but his health had declined in recent years. Then my dad’s mother, about a week ago (and only a week before her own birthday). Then yesterday (on the aforementioned grandmother’s birthday), my mom’s best friend for more than 35 years, Sherry, died. I know it sounds like the set-up for a joke: Terry, Larry and Sherry walk into a bar. Well, for all I know, somewhere in this universe, they are. But that’s not the point.

Death had been so much on my mind last year, entering this year, forcing me at times to move my comfort zones and expand on my sense of space and time. That is, time is not unlimited – but at the same time, does not really exist. We float through a world in which all action is interaction. What are we – or were we – without interaction? We do or did not exist. I have let myself love and let myself get hurt and do and undo all the concomitant reactions (e.g. lashing out, crying, recomposing, moving forward, and so on). To feel – and to produce something from the feeling – is somehow all there is, and what proves we are alive, proves we still have something to give – whether to another person or to the world.

robotic clasp

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This Evening
Shin Shifra
If things were tailored
tonight to fit my size
I’d put on a frock
of crimson
weaved of raw lust
like the scent of unruly chrysanthemum
harboring a promise
of rain.
Whomever I meet this evening
on my way
will be small for my size
and when I return I’ll be an old hag
and lust will turn
to longing

Every day the sun like a groom
toward me
and until night
I waited for you clad in white —
who is it tottering up the stairs
the voice of my love
your arms closed on me
in a robotic clasp

Complete

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With love, for J

As Agreed
Natan Zach

Look, as we promised each other,
we changed nothing and the world
is as wonderful as it was, the rain
tarries this year, but it will come:
it will come as long as we’re still here.

Look, as we agreed,
I am in one place, you in another.
We didn’t become one, which is also natural,
and in your weakness and in mine
there looms a promise, too:
after memory forgetfulness is all.

And if the road already may incline downward
in the famed sloping print of life’s curve,
it does, in some sense, aspire upward,
and aspiration is a great thing in life,
on this, too, we agreed, you surely remember.

And if now I’m alone and aching and ailing more than ever,
this, too, was a choice,
if not always conscious. And if you too are alone,
it makes my loneliness less just
and this should sustain you as well.

How fortunate that we’ve agreed on so little:
on parting, on loneliness and fear, the basic certainties,
and there’s always something to return to,
you will see how young we will be in the end,
and the end, when it comes, will be almost just.
And everything, you will see, will be almost welcome.

in a box

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Even the freest people seem to be boxed in, not able to resist the noxious fumes of the confines they have built.

What is the investment for? And how could one stop oneself from making it? It is the natural impulse – to give and give. One gives because s/he wants to and can do nothing else. But this can lead to unintentionally fractious relations, or at least fractious feelings. Or at least an impasse.

But at some point, the question comes: what is one investing in? If the scales come out weighed down on only one side, the imbalance chokes everything, and the walls close in.

Photo by Eugene Lim on Unsplash

intolerable

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Another example of a poem that could be translated so very differently.

The Shapelessness
Ágnes Nemes Nagy
The shapelessness, the endlessness.
I almost fall before I cut away
My statement from the timelessness.
With sand I wall a bucketful of sea
Against a waste of nothingness.
Perpetual indifference should be
Intolerable to consciousness.

Original

A formátlan, a véghetetlen.
Belepusztulok, míg mondatomat
a végtelenből elrekesztem._
Homokkal egy vödörnyi óceánt
kerítek el a semmi ellen.
Ez a viszonylagos öröklét
ép ésszel elviselhetetlen.