Uit: Two Lives
„When I was seventeen I went to live with my great-uncle and great-aunt in England. He was Indian by origin, she German. They were both sixty. I hardly knew them at the time. It was August 1969 – the monsoon season in Calcutta. A few days before I left, Mama had taken me to a temple to be blessed, which was most unlike her. She and Papa came to see me off at Dumdum Airport. I arrived at Heathrow in the afternoon. My great-uncle and great-aunt were still away on their annual holiday in Switzerland and, as I recall, I was met at the terminal by someone in the firm for which my father worked. My first impression was of the width of the road that led (under grey skies) to London. I was housed for a night in a drab hotel somewhere near Green Park.
That evening Shanti Uncle and Aunty Henny returned from Switzerland, and the following day I and my luggage arrived at their door.
I looked at the house that was to be my home for the next few years. There was a red pillar-box not far from the gate of 18 Queens Road, Hendon; this was to be my beacon whenever I trudged up from the tube station. In front of the house was a small, low-walled, immaculately maintained garden with a few rosebushes in full bloom. A path led to the door. To the right of the path, slanted on a stand, was a burnished brass plaque that read:
S. B. Seth
L.D.S., R.C.S. (Edin.), B.Sc., D.M.D. (Berlin)
I set down my luggage on the front step. The thought of meeting people whom I had not seen for years and did not really know, and whose home I would be sharing, made me nervous. I was, in any case, fearfully shy. After a minute I rang the bell.“
Vikram Seth (Kolkata, 20 juni 1952)
Milkweed and Monarch
The rain comes flapping through the yard
like a tablecloth that she hand-embroidered.
My mother has left it on the line.
It is sodden with rain.
The mushroom shed is windowless, wide,
its high-stacked wooden trays
hosed down with formaldehyde.
And my father has opened the gates of Troy
to that first load of horse manure.
Barley straw. Gypsum. Dried blood. Ammonia.
Wagon after wagon
blusters in, a self-renewing gold-black dragon
we push to the back of the mind.
We have taken our pitchforks to the wind.
All brought back to me that September evening
fifteen years on. The pair of us
tripping through Barnett’s fair demesne
like girls in long dresses
after a hail-storm.
We might have been thinking of the fire-bomb
that sent Malone House sky-high
and its priceless collection of linen
We might have wept with Elizabeth McCrum.
We were thinking only of psilocybin.
You sang of the maid you met on the dewy grass-
And she stooped so low gave me to know
it was mushrooms she was gathering O.
He’ll be wearing that same old donkey-jacket
and the sawn-off waders.
He carries a knife, two punnets, a bucket.
He reaches far into his own shadow.
We’ll have taken him unawares
and stand behind him, slightly to one side.
He is one of those ancient warriors
before the rising tide.
He’ll glance back from under his peaked cap
without breaking rhythm:
his coaxing a mushroom-a flat or a cup-
the nick against his right thumb;
the bucket then, the punnet left or right,
and so on and so forth till kingdom come.
We followed the overgrown tow-path by the Lagan.
The sunset would deepen through cinnamon
the wood-pigeon’s concerto for oboe and strings,
allegro, blowing your mind.
And you were suddenly out my ken, hurtling
towards the ever-receding ground,
into the maw
of a shimmering green-gold dragon.
You discovered yourself in some outbuilding
with your long-lost companion, me,
though my head had grown into the head of a horse
and shook its dirty-fair mane
and spoke this verse:
Come back to us. However cold and raw, your feet
were always meant
to negotiate terms with bare cement.
Beyond this concrete wall is a wall of concrete
and barbed wire. Your only hope
is to come back. If sing you must, let your song
tell of treading your own dung,
let straw and dung give a spring to your step.
If we never live to see the day we leap
into our true domain,
lie down with us now and wrap
yourself in the soiled grey blanket of Irish rain
that will, one day, bleach itself white.
Lie down with us and wait.
Paul Muldoon (Portadown, 20 juni 1951)
If I Were, When I Was
Untimely gropes without space The I in the Everywhere You From Morning-Evening-Evening-Morning toward the next self-consciousness.
From the eternally Old it came, As I; Always growing without degree or measure It remains in the I.
Soon smaller-larger, up-back In the You the I, in the I the You. You are like I, Your I you are, like I.
Thus we travel in the Nothing Unevenly different and differently the same Uneven evenness (Variable parable) of the millions Me-Thee, Thee-Me: the same way. Always believing everyone fulfills his duty, Always faithful to the call within; The hope that we may unite ourselves, Remains unsevered. We live, because we can remember, And go on living, because we hope. Time is change all around us, Space is Cover.
We are the measure, For Time and eternally, infinite Space.
We grope, because we know, If we were, when we were.
Vertaald door Pierre Joris
A worm hangs from a fishhook.
A fish bites the worm.
The fish also bites the fishhook.
The hook pulls the fish.
Now the fish hangs from the hook.
The hook swings it through the air.
The fish drops dead in the air.
The hook drops the fish dead.
A new worm hangs from the fishhook.
A new fish bites the new worm.
And new life blossoms out among the ruins.
Vertaald door Jerome Rothenberg
Kurt Schwitters (20 juni 1887 – 8 januari 1948)
Uit:Total Chaos (Vertaald door Howard Curtis)
„Rue des Pistoles, twenty years after
All he had was her address. Rue des Pistoles, in the old neighborhood. It was years since he’d last been in Marseilles. But he didn’t have a choice. Not now.
It was June 2nd, and it was raining. Despite the rain, the taxi driver refused to turn into the back alleys. He dropped him in front of Montée-des-Accoules. More than a hundred steps to climb and a maze of streets between there and Rue des Pistoles. The ground was littered with garbage sacks spilling their contents. There was a pungent smell on the streets, a mixture of piss, dampness and mildew. The only big change was that even this neighborhood was being redeveloped. Some houses had been demolished, others had had their fronts repainted ocher and pink, with Italian-style green and blue shutters.
Even on Rue des Pistoles, maybe one of the narrowest streets of all, only one side, the side with even-numbered houses, was still standing. The other side had been razed to the ground, as had the houses on Rue Rodillat, and in their place was a parking lot. That was the first thing he saw when he turned the corner from Rue du Refuge. The developers seemed to have taken a breather here. The houses were blackened and dilapidated, eatenaway by sewer vegetation.
He was too early, he knew. But he didn’t want to go to a bistro and sit drinking one coffee after another, looking at his watch, waiting for a reasonable hour to wake Lole. What he wanted was to have his coffee sitting comfortably in a real apartment. He hadn’t done that for months. As soon as she opened the door, he headed straight for the only armchair in the room, as if it was something he’d often done. He stroked the armrest with his hand, sat down slowly, and closed his eyes. It was only afterwards t
hat he finally looked at her. Twenty years after.
She was standing. Bolt upright, as always. Her hands deep in the pockets of a straw-colored bathrobe. The color made her skin look browner than usual and emphasized the blackness of her hair, which she was wearing short now. Her hips may have grown thicker, he wasn’t sure. She’d become a woman, but she hadn’t changed. Lole, the Gypsy. She’d always been beautiful“.
Jean-Claude Izzo (20 juni 1945 – 26 januari 2000)
Uit: Organische Portraits
Was sich ein Nest baut in den Achselhöhlen,
das kriecht auch durch den Nabel fort. Und in die
Muscheln ruft es wilde Worte, färbt Wangen rot,
ist Echolot auch für die Lymphen, die sich wie
grüngebleichte Nymphen zu den Schulterblättern schmiegen.
In den Salzfässern unterm Hals, da leckt sich satt,
was da geschlüpft aus Haar und Poren, was
ausgebrütet zu der Beuge runterfloß, um sich dann
noch einen Weg zu bohren zur andren Seite hin.
Was sich ein Nest baut in den Achselhöhlen,
das schlängelt sich auch durch den Mund,
das brennt und zündelt auf der Zunge,
bis die Lippen wund ein neues Nest gestatten.
Es regt sich, schnarrt und ächzt im Kehlkopf drin
schlägt den harten Gong des Gaumens zwölfmal an
Gewalpert wird vielleicht ganz oben wo sichs wölbt
hier unten, wo der Kiefer leise knackt,
spukt es in der Lippenfurche, huscht ein Schatten übers Kinn
Statt Fäden: Speichelnetze. Was da sich drin verfängt
zappelt eine Weile, stirbt dann schnell wie hingesagt
In den Winkeln ist ein früh verwestes Wort verwoben
ein unterkühltes seilt sich von der Schartenspitze ab
durch klebrig, dichtgesponnenes Gemasch
beschlägt in Tau und lungenwarmem Dunst
Zehn Füße hat der mißgeborne Vers
die rudern, krabbeln um ihr Leben einen Laut
wenn nicht der Atemzug vom nächsten drüberfährt
Silke Andrea Schuemmer (Aken, 20 juni 1973)
Zie voor nog meer schrijvers van de 20e juni ook mijn blog van 20 juni 2011.