“Iemand had een mand met kittens langs de kant van de weg gezet. Rossige, grijs-witte, cyperse. Wie deed zoiets? Op een bedrijventerrein nog wel, waar de vindkans minimaal was. Waarom geen advertentie geplaatst? Kittens, gratis af te halen.
Hij keek om zich heen. Een vrachtwagen passeerde hem en stopte een eindje verderop met veel gepuf bij een kubusvormig kantoorgebouw, dat sprekend leek op het gebouw waar hij zelf werkte. De chauffeur toeterde, sprong naar buiten en opende de laadklep. Vanuit een zijingang van het gebouw kwam een oranje vorkheftruck op de vrachtwagen afgereden. Het laden en lossen nam een aanvang. Volle pallets eruit, lege pallets erin.
Wandelaars zag je hier zelden, zelfs niet vandaag, nu het zulk mooi lenteweer was, tweeëntwintig graden, flink wat warmer dan normaal voor de tijd van het jaar. In deze buurt recreëerde men binnen, in bedrijfskantines. Geen picknickers of hondenuitlaters op het grasveldje waar de mand stond. Het enige doel van het gras was om het braakliggende terrein tussen de kantoorgebouwen de schijn van bestemming te verlenen. Slechts uit conventie was het grasveld afgezoomd met een keurige strook trottoir.
Hij stapte op het gras, zijn knieën knakten toen hij bij de mand neerhurkte. Op een dag als deze verwachtte je te midden van zoveel groen de kruidige lucht van plantenlust, maar hij rook niets. Het gras had net zo goed kunstgras kunnen zijn.
Zeven waren het er. Zeven hompjes dons, elk ter grootte van een vuist. De mand was stevig en groot, gemaakt van gevlochten riet. Ruim genoeg voor zeker nog eens zeven katjes. Toch lagen déze zeven dicht tegen elkaar aan op een grote, Schots geruite deken.
Ze zagen er schoon uit. Als vanzelf ging zijn hand naar het dons om te aaien. Toen hij een van de kittens optilde, een rossige, voelde hij de ribbetjes over zijn vingers rollen.”
Jamal Ouariachi (Amsterdam, 8 december 1978)
The Doomed Boy
He was handsome as Endymion, cast about him
The scent of virile cologne, showed brilliant teeth
When he smiled, made confident conversation,
Lived well on his father’s wealth.
It was known that the women loosened their gowns and
Stroked their hair, and preened
As this beautiful man came by. They thought him
Respectful for keeping his hands to himself.
He wasn’t detected down in the streets of the port,
With his ideal lips and his ideal limbs,
Whirling and dancing in basements, standing in shadows
On dim street corners, warmed briefly by transient joys,
Flitting and gliding, his hat pulled over his face
Like all the other doomed and beautiful boys.
Love is a temporary madness, it erupts like volcanoes
And then subsides.
And when it subsides you have to make a decision.
You have to work out whether your roots have so entwined together
that it is inconceivable that you should ever part.
Because this is what love is.
Love is not breathless, it is not excitement,
it is not the promulgation of eternal passion.
That is just being “in love” which any fool can do.
Love itself is what is left over when being in love has burned away,
and that is both an art and a fortunate accident.
Those that truly love, have roots that grow towards each other underground,
and when all the pretty blossoms have fallen from the branches,
they find that they are one tree and not two.
Louis de Bernières (Londen, 8 december 1954)
Uit: Circling My Mother
“She asks me thirty or more times if I know where I’m going as we wait for the elevator. When I say we’ll go to the chapel in a little while, she asks if I think she’ll get in trouble for going to the chapel outside the normal hours for Mass, and on a day that’s not a Sunday or a holy day. She seems to believe me each time when I tell her that she won’t fall off the roof, that no one will reprimand her or steal her flowers, that I know where I’m going, that she will not get in trouble for being in church and saying her prayers.
I have brought her a piece of banana cake and some cut-up watermelon. There are only three things to which my mother now responds: prayers, songs, and sweets. Usually, I sing to her as we eat cake, and then I take her to the chapel, where we say a decade of the rosary. But today she is too cast down to sing, or pray, or even eat. There is no question of going out onto the roof. She just wants to go back to her room. She complains of being cold, though it is ninety-five degrees outside and the air conditioning is off. It is not a long visit. I bring her back to her floor after twenty minutes.
On my mother’s floor in the nursing home, many people in wheelchairs spend most of their days in the hall. There is a man who is still attractive, though his face is sullen and his eyes are dull. Well, of course, I think, why wouldn’t they be? He looks at me, and his dull eyes focus on my breasts in a way that is still predatory, despite his immobility. I take this as a sign of life. It’s another thing I don’t take personally. In fact, I want to encourage this sign of life. So I walk down the hall in an obviously sexual way. “Putana!” he screams out behind me. I believe that I deserve this; even though what I did was an error, a misreading, it was still, I understand now, wrong.
In front of the dayroom door sits a legless woman. Her hair is shoulder-length, dyed a reddish color; her lips are painted red. The light-blue-and-white nylon skirts of her dressing gown billow around her seat, and she looks like a doll sitting on a child’s dresser, or a child’s crude drawing of a doll.”
Mary Gordon (Far Rockaway, 8 december 1949)
Far Rockway. New York
Uit: A Short History of Nearly Everything
„And so, from nothing, our universe begins.
In a single blinding pulse, a moment of glory much too swift and expansive for any form of words, the singularity assumes heavenly dimensions, space beyond conception. In the first lively second (a second that many cosmologists will devote careers to shaving into ever-finer wafers) is produced gravity and the other forces that govern physics. In less than a minute the universe is a million billion miles across and growing fast. There is a lot of heat now, ten billion degrees of it, enough to begin the nuclear reactions that create the lighter elements-principally hydrogen and helium, with a dash (about one atom in a hundred million) of lithium. In three minutes, 98 percent of all the matter there is or will ever be has been produced. We have a universe. It is a place of the most wondrous and gratifying possibility, and beautiful, too. And it was all done in about the time it takes to make a sandwich.
When this moment happened is a matter of some debate. Cosmologists have long argued over whether the moment of creation was 10 billion years ago or twice that or something in between. The consensus seems to be heading for a figure of about 13.7 billion years, but these things are notoriously difficult to measure, as we shall see further on. All that can really be said is that at some indeterminate point in the very distant past, for reasons unknown, there came the moment known to science as t = 0. We were on our way.
There is of course a great deal we don’t know, and much of what we think we know we haven’t known, or thought we’ve known, for long. Even the notion of the Big Bang is quite a recent one. The idea had been kicking around since the 1920s, when Georges Lem tre, a Belgian priest-scholar, first tentatively proposed it, but it didn’t really become an active notion in cosmology until the mid-1960s when two young radio astronomers made an extraordinary and inadvertent discovery.”
Bill Bryson (Des Moines, 8 december 1951)
When I fall asleep, and even during sleep,
I hear, quite distinctly, voices speaking
Whole phrases, commonplace and trivial,
Having no relation to my affairs.
Dear Mother, is any time left to us
In which to be happy? My debts are immense.
My bank account is subject to the court’s judgment.
I know nothing. I cannot know anything.
I have lost the ability to make an effort.
But now as before my love for you increases.
You are always armed to stone me, always:
It is true. It dates from childhood.
For the first time in my long life
I am almost happy. The book, almost finished,
Almost seems good. It will endure, a monument
To my obsessions, my hatred, my disgust.
Debts and inquietude persist and weaken me.
Satan glides before me, saying sweetly:
“Rest for a day! You can rest and play today.
Tonight you will work.” When night comes,
My mind, terrified by the arrears,
Bored by sadness, paralyzed by impotence,
Promises: “Tomorrow: I will tomorrow.”
Tomorrow the same comedy enacts itself
With the same resolution, the same weakness.
I am sick of this life of furnished rooms.
I am sick of having colds and headaches:
You know my strange life. Every day brings
Its quota of wrath. You little know
A poet’s life, dear Mother: I must write poems,
The most fatiguing of occupations.
I am sad this morning. Do not reproach me.
I write from a café near the post office,
Amid the click of billiard balls, the clatter of dishes,
The pounding of my heart. I have been asked to write
“A History of Caricature.” I have been asked to write
“A History of Sculpture.” Shall I write a history
Of the caricatures of the sculptures of you in my heart?
Although it costs you countless agony,
Although you cannot believe it necessary,
And doubt that the sum is accurate,
Please send me money enough for at least three weeks.
Delmore Schwartz (8 december 1913 – 11 juli 1966)
a place where ghosts
reside to whisper into
the ears of travellers &
interest them in their fate
“I call again on the dark
hidden gods of blood”
-Why do you call us?
You know our price. It
never changes. Death of
you will give you life
& free you from a vile
fate. But it is getting late.
-If I could see you again
& talk w/ you, & walk a
short while in your company,
& drink the heady brew
of your conversations,
-to rescue a soul already
ruined. To achieve respite.
To plunder green gold
on a pirate raid & bring
to camp the glory of old.
-As the capesman faces
poisoned horns & drinks
red victory; the soldier,
too, w/ his trophy, a
pierced helmet; & the
his way into inward grace
-(laughter) Well, then. Would
you mock yourself?
-Soon our voices must become
one, or one must leave.
Jim Morrison (8 december 1943 – 3 juli 1971)
To Francis Fowler Hogan
I think at first like us he did not see
The goal to which the screaming eagles flew;
For romance lured him, France, and chivalry;
But Oh! Before the end he knew, he knew!
And gave his first full love to Liberty,
And met her face to face one lurid night
While the guns boomed their shuddering minstrelsy
And all the Argonne glowed with demon light.
And Liberty herself came through the wood,
And with her dear, boy lover kept the tryst;
Clasped in her grand, Greek arms he understood
Whose were the fatal lips that he had kissed—
Lipes that the soul of Youth has loved from old—
Hot lips of Liberty that kiss men cold.
Hervey Allen (8 december 1889 – 28 december 1949)