“One of them had a clay pig, small enough to fit into his pocket; it whistled one dry, low note when blown on the snout. The other knew the names of stones but he was the hardest to understand. Someone’s youngest brother he called “the Least One.” If he doubted a story, he said, “I don’t confidence you.” Windows he called “lights” and their hiding place in an oak bole he spoke of as the “plunder room.” Where the creek fanned out into a hundred rivulets, this child said, “That’s where it turkey-tailed,” and if a grown-up showed him special attention he’d ask later, “Why did he much me?” Both of Gabriel’s companions spoke in doubled nouns (“biscuit-bread,” “ham-meat,” sulfur-match”). Nor did they grasp what Gabriel meant when he said once, “Have a nice weekend.” After a while it turned out their families worked every day and the notion of a weekend was beyond their means.
When Mathilda asked Mateo to bring Gabriel to his very first reception at her house, Mateo assumed she was merely being polite out of consideration for him, Mateo. More than once she’d assured him she knew what it was like to be stuck with a child in their nearly childless world of artists and intellectuals; after all she (with Mateo’s distant if affectionate assistance) had raised a child, Daniel, who was now thirty and looked so nearly as though he were her brother that her maternity would have been suspect had not their celebrated, even infamous past together been so well documented. Nevertheless Mathilda was delighted when naïve or provincial people mistook Daniel for her brother or lover, and to increase the confusion she often referred to him coyly as “the darling.” This coyness was so unlike her that people expected to catch a sardonic smile and were shocked to see instead the sort of smile people wear when they speak of their pets. What few people knew was that an older child, a girl, had died when she was four. This loss had poisoned Mathilda’s joy in motherhood at the same time it had intensified her love for – no longer “my son” but “the darling.”
Edmund White (Cincinnati, 13 januari 1940)
“Er wußte, daß jemand anderer sich nun sehr erregt hätte – aber so etwas lag ihm nicht, er war nicht begabt darin. Er drückte die Auflegetaste.
Sekunden später läutete es wieder. «Ralf?» fragte ein Mann.
« Nein. »
« Was ? »
«Diese Nummer ist . . . Sie wurde aus Versehen . . . Sie haben sich verwählt.»
«Das ist Ralfs Nummer!»
Ebling legte auf und steckte das Telefon in die Jackentasche.
Die S-Bahn war wieder überfüllt, auch heute mußte er stehen. Von der einen Seite preßte sich eine fette Frau an ihn, von der anderen starrte ein schnurrbärtiger Mann ihn an wie einen verschworenen Feind. Es gab viel, das Ebling an seinem Leben nicht mochte. Es störte ihn, daß seine Frau so geistesabwesend war, daß sie so dumme Bücher las und daß sie so erbärmlich schlecht kochte. Es störte ihn, daß er keinen intelligenten Sohn hat te und daß seine Tochter ihm so fremd vorkam. Es störte ihn, daß er durch die zu dünnen Wände immer den Nachbarn schnarchen hörte. Besonders aber störten ihn die Bahnfahrten zur Stoßzeit. Immer so eng, immer voll, und gut gerochen hatte es noch nie.
Seine Arbeit aber mochte er. Er und Dutzende Kollegen saßen unter sehr hellen Lampen und untersuchten defekte Computer, die von Händlern aus dem ganzen Land eingeschickt wurden. Er wußte, wie fragil die kleinen denkenden Scheibchen waren, wie kompliziert und rätselhaft”.
Daniel Kehlmann (München, 13 januari 1975)
Uit: How It Ended
“We would arrive Tuesday night from prep school or college, or on Wednesday night from New York, where we were working at a bank while writing a play, or from Vermont, where we were building a log cabin with our roommate from Middlebury before heading up to Stowe at first snow for a season of ski bumming. Dad would take the latter part of the week off, until he retired, which was when things really became dangerous. The riotous foliage that briefly enflamed the chaste New England hills was long gone, leaving the monochromatic landscape of winter: the gray stone walls of the early settlers, the silver trunks of the maples, the white columns of birch.
Manly hugs were exchanged at the kitchen door. Cocktails were offered and accepted. Girlfriends and roommates were introduced. The year of the big snow, footwear was scraped on the blade of the cast-iron boot cleaner outside the door. Dad was particularly pleased with this implement, and always pointed it out to guests, not because he was particularly fastidious about mud and snow, but because it seemed to signify all the supposed charm and tradition of old New England (as opposed to, say, its intolerance of immigrants and its burning of young girls at the stake), although he’d bought this particular boot scraper once upon a time at the local True Value hardware store. But somehow Dad had convinced himself that it had been planted here by the early settlers of the Massachusetts Bay Colony, in between skirmishes with the Wampanoags and the Mohicans. He liked to think of himself as an old Yankee, despite the fact that when his grandfathers arrived in Boston, the windows were full of NO IRISH NEED APPLY signs and they weren’t likely to be invited to scrape their boots at anybody’s front door. A century and a half later, though, we lived in a big white house with green shutters, which Dad inevitably described as “Colonial,” though it was built in the 1920s to resemble something a hundred years older.”
Jay McInerney (Hartford, 13 januari 1955)
Uit: Birds of America
“It’s fitting that Christmas should degenerate to this, its barest bones. The family has begun to seem to Therese like a pack of thespians anyway; everyone arrives, performs for one another, catches early flights out, to Logan or O’Hare. Probably it’s appropriate that a party game should literally appear and insert itself in the guise of a holiday tradition (which it isn’t). Usually, no one in Therese’s family expresses much genuine feeling anyway; everyone aims instead–though gamely!–for enactments.
Each year now, the stage is a new one–their aging parents, in their restless old age, buying and selling town houses, moving steadily southward from Maine. The real estate is Therese’s mother’s idea. Since he’s retired, Therese’s father has focused more on bird feeders; he is learning how to build them. “Who knows what he’ll do next?” Her mother sighs. “He’ll probably start carving designs into the side of the house.”
This year, they are in Bethesda, Maryland, near where Andrew, Therese’s brother, lives. Andrew works as an electrical engineer and is married to a sweet, pretty, part-time private detective named Pam. Pam is pixie-haired and smiley. Who would ever suspect her of discreetly gathering confidences and facts for one’s adversaries? She freezes hams. She makes Jell-O salad days in advance. She and Andrew are the parents of a one-and-a-half-year-old named Winnie, who already reads.”
Lorrie Moore (Glens Falls, 13 januari 1957)
Die ene bus
Mohammed stond te wachten
op de bus, die ene, ene bus.
Alle mensen stapten in.
Mohammed bleef staan
en wachten op de bus, die ene,
ene bus. En het begon te regenen.
De bussen werden onderzeeërs,
de halte een gezonken schip,
maar Mohammed bleef drijven
en wachten op de bus, die ene,
ene bus. Een taxi voer voorbij
en de chauffeur vroeg: ‘Wil je soms?’
Mohammed schudde het hoofd
en hij bleef wachten op de bus,
die ene, ene bus.
De kracht van vlinders
Ik doe net alsof
ik een gedicht schrijf
dat zogenaamd gaat
over de liefde,
maar als je het leest,
ze je slechts
letters op papier.
Alleen wanneer je
echt wilt dat
het een gedicht is
over de liefde, over
vlinders in een buik,
de mooiste buik
van de hele wereld,
dan, ja dan alleen,
zal het zo zijn.
Jan de Bas (Waddinxveen, 13 januari 1964)
The Burden of the Suns
Wherefore thy burden and thy toil, O Sun?
Borne up the steep and hollow heavens afar
Thy worlds retard thee, who wert else a star,
Swift with white speed of many a lonelier one;
And heaving mightily, thy pulses run,
Swollen with fires of effort. Shall Mizar
Not pass thee, or the suns of Algebar?
And hopest thou to close with Procyon?
Howbeit, thou and these, thy starrier kin,
Transcending thee, strain ever, tho apart
And with unequal speed, within the same
Black maze of night and Time, where all shall win,
Tho with no path, nor clue, the hollow heart,
Uncompassed and oblivious, whence they came.
The Call of the Wind
I hear the west wind’s call through the window open flung:
“Oh, come ye forth the budding woods and fields among.
Your cares and worries fling like a worn-out cloak aside;
And come ye swiftly forth where the vernal day is wide;
Come ye out to the fields and the blue-pavilioned hills,
Where the wakened earth to the sun’s warm kisses thrills;
And the songs of the birds are a rapturous paean of praise
To the joy and the beauty of Spring’s first perfect days.”
I hear the west wind’s call, and I must arise and go
Out where the day is fair and the joyous breezes blow.
Clark Ashton Smith (13 januari 1893 – 14 augustus 1961)
Portret door Natalae Bixby Porter, 1946.
Uit: Tula (Vertaald door Elizabeth Novickas)
“I’m here now, here, while above Bekešas hill that broad cloud goes on hanging, surely frozen already into a sole, hardened like a gray block of cement–it has now, out of what was once pure drops of rain, turned into a prophet of corporeal disaster; while I go to you, ignoring not just the cold, but the despair, the late hour, the blind man with dark glasses standing by the bridge’s railing; no longer seeing the bridge, I step into the foaming, raging water and, slipping on the polished stones, I clamber up to your, Tūla’s, shore, and it seems to me that a huge lilac bush gleams blue above my head,–I pick them, and in each hand hold a lavender bouquet as fluffy as spotless white clouds–intoxicating, curly, overflowing with life, dripping in silver streams–and, swaying from exhaustion, I go in the white two-hinged door, on which hangs a modest, worm-eaten, blue mail box, and now I am, Tūla, just a few steps away from you, from your husky voice, your body’s fibers, your most secret little corners…
Speak softly, breathe so I can hardly hear it as I fly in through the air vent, opened just barely for the night, clasping both enormous bouquets of lilac, as I now swoop under the vault–a soundless bat–without a sound, without a rustle; all the words of love and despair hermetically sealed within the skull of a tiny, flying, nocturnal beast, careful not to startle the other spirits hiding within your crumpled soul, body, mind, your most secret thoughts, your dignity, tears, your tiny breasts trembling like a ripple in a stream, all of you, Tūla; I fly in, and with my tiny feet clinging to slanting vault of your room I listen to you breathe, to the hoarfrost melting on your alveoli, to the blood turning one more cycle of circulation inside your sleepy body, to you, not realizing it yourself, speaking to the bread molding in the picture, to the boxes full of memories; in the moonlight I see your long bones, pelvic bones, the pearly skull under the short hair; I see how a small, brightly shining bug walks over your stomach, falls into the hollow of your belly button and can’t crawl out of it–that’s how small it is…”
Jurgis Kunčinas (13 januari 1947 – 13 december 2002)
Zie voor nog meer schrijvers van de 13e januari ook mijn eerste blog van vandaag.