Uit: High Key
“Niet minder geldt dit voor diegene die we gemakshalve maar “spreker” zullen noemen, een stille bewonderaar van de schrijfster en een moeilijke meneer, helemaal achteraan op de groepsfoto. Maar laten we terugkeren naar de lounge van het hotel.
Pasteltekeningen toonden de eerste bezoekers anno 1888 wandelend in de tuin. Wat verglijdt de tijd!
“You heard what he said?” Hij hing aan haar lippen like a honeybird. Dat het leven moest worden gedefinieerd in termen van energie.
“You’d better buy an iceberg!”
“A nice what?”
“Spreek toch ne keer Vlaams”
Enkele gasten nodigden elkaar uit voor een wandeling. De stijl van de Lovelings was niet veraf. In de hal keek een meisje tegen een donkerblauwe wervelkolom aan. Een ongeschoren nek bleef in de telefoon praten. Spuwde hij zijn gal? Ergernis kromde haar tengere verschijning.
“Who the hell is he telling his life to? In New York he would have been killed already fifty times.”
“Juffrouw, ik heb niets tegen vreemdelingen,” zei de man,”maar er zijn grenzen.” Hij hing de ivoren hoorn op de haak.
“He says there are ‘grenzen’.
“No, Brucargo! Stay off!”
“I am a ‘vreemdeling’! My god, he is a barbarian!”
“Brucarg! Off, I said!”
“Gaat ie mee? Ja, ie gaat ie mee, zie.”
Pol Hoste (Lokeren, 25 maart 1947)
Ik vraag de dokter zelf even te spreken.
Hij blijkt een heel gewone man te zijn;
zo sterk zelfs, dat ik durf te vragen of hij
misschien zijn witte jas weer aan wil trekken
voor het effect. Hij knikt en hij verstrekt
in uniform zijn informatie. Wij
zijn vrienden want hij weet dingen van mij
en ik heb altijd naar hem opgekeken.
Ik zeg: ‘Ik weet dat u betrouwbaar bent:
u kent precies mijn houdbaarheid. Alleen
een ingreep van uw hand kan mij bewaren.’
Hij zegt: ‘Ik heb uw vader nog gekend.’
Dat zal zo zijn, want ik herken meteen
de strakgetrokken scheiding in zijn haar.
De dokter test mijn ogen. Wijst mij op een kaart
een aantal letters aan. Ik weet niet wat er staat.
Menno Van der Beek (Rotterdam, 25 maart 1967)
Uit: A Good Man Is Hard to Find and Other Stories
“She said she thought it was going to be a good day for driving, neither too hot nor too cold, and she cautioned Bailey that the speed limit was fifty-five miles an hour and that the patrolmen hid themselves behind billboards and small clumps of trees and sped out after you before you had a chance to slow down. She pointed out interesting details of the scenery: Stone Mountain; the blue granite that in some places came up to both sides of the highway; the brilliant red clay banks slightly streaked with purple; and the various crops that made rows of green lace-work on the ground. The trees were full of silver-white sunlight and the meanest of them sparkled. The children were reading comic magazines and their mother had gone back to sleep.
“Let’s go through Georgia fast so we won’t have to look at it much,” John Wesley said.
“If I were a little boy,” said the grandmother, “I wouldn’t talk about my native state that way. Tennessee has the mountains and Georgia has the hills.”
“Tennessee is just a hillbilly dumping ground,” John Wesley said, “and Georgia is a lousy state too.”
“You said it,” June Star said.
“In my time,” said the grandmother, folding her thin veined fingers, “children were more respectful of their native states and their parents and everything else. People did right then. Oh look at the cute little pickaninny!” she said and pointed to a Negro child standing in the door of a shack. “Wouldn’t that make a picture, now?” she asked and they all turned and looked at the little Negro out of the back window. He waved.
“He didn’t have any britches on,” June Star said.
“He probably didn’t have any,” the grandmother explained. “Little niggers in the country don’t have things like we do. If I could paint, I’d paint that picture,” she said.
The children exchanged comic books.“
Flannery O’Connor (25 maart 1925 – 3 augustus 1964)
I LEFT MY BODY at the edge of the highway and came crying for myself. The city is huge like an enormous orphanage. Cold and comfortable, dark and lit-up like a penitentiary.
I came in search of love. I thought that love was my only refuge against the night-time bombardments. And I discovered that love could not be salvaged. Love lasts a mere instant. Corrupted by time, it does not suffer absence; it stinks with the hours, it is subject to the glands, exposed.
My little garden was full of worms. Nothing of what I left behind, I found—not a petal nor a breath of air.
What am I going to do now? I feel like, I am, crying. I want to gather up a few of my things—some book, a box of matches, my cigarettes, a pair of pants, a shirt maybe—and go. I don’t know why or to where, but I want to go. I’m scared. I don’t feel right.
What will become of my children? I hope they grow up indifferent or blissfully ignorant. We all need our distractions. That’s why it’s good to rock ’n’ roll, do the twist, get down and Mozambique.
Should we live drunk on something, as Baudelaire said we should? But this lucid drunk of time and people, isn’t it a bit over the top?
I love you! I love you cockroach, Maria, Rosa, leprosy, Isabel, cancer, hepatitis, Gertrudis, apple, butterfly, yearling calf, walnut tree, river, meadow, cloud, drizzle, sun, beetle, cardboard box, I love you painted flower, feather duster, my sweetheart! I love you. I can’t live alone. I’m gone.
Vertaald door Colin Carberry
Jaime Sabines (25 maart 1926 – 19 maart 1999)
“Jullie met je literatuur altijd!
Met een paar tuinboeken zou ik deze uitgeverij zó uit de rode cijfers hebben!”
Peter Van Straaten (Arnhem, 25 maart 1935)
“This here costs four hundred eighty dollars,” say Rosie Giraffe. So we pile up all over her to see what she pointin out. My eyes tell me it’s a chunk of glass cracked with something heavy, and different-color inks dripped into the splits, then the whole thing put into a oven or something. But for $480 it don’t make sense.
“That’s a paperweight made of semi-precious stones fused together under tremendous pressure,” she explains slowly, with her hands doing the mining and all the factory work.
“So what’s a paperweight?” asks Rosie Giraffe.
“To weigh paper with, dumbbell,” say Flyboy, the wise man from the East.
“Not exactly,” say Miss Moore, which is what she say when you warm or way off too. “It’s to weigh paper down so it won’t scatter and make your desk untidy. ” So right away me and Sugar curtsy to each other and then to Mercedes who is more the tidy type.
“We don’t keep paper on top of the desk in my class,” say Junebug, figuring Miss Moore crazy or lyin one.
“At home, then,” she say. “Don’t you have a calendar and a pencil case and a blotter and a letter-opener on your desk at home where you do your homework?” And she know damn well what our homes look like cause she nosys around in them every chance she gets.
“I don’t even have a desk,” say Junebug. “Do we?”
“No. And I don’t get no homework neither,” says Big Butt.
“And I don’t even have a home,” say Flyboy like he do at school to keep the white folks off his back and sorry for him. Send this poor kid to camp posters, is his specialty.
“I do,” says Mercedes. “I have a box of stationery on my desk and a picture of my cat. My godmother bought the stationery and the desk. There’s a big rose on each sheet and the envelopes smell like roses.”
Toni Cade Bambara (25 maart 1939 – 9 december 1995)
Uit: The Saint
“I have had a letter from Italy,” she said, after gently waving aside Noemi’s pressing inquiries. “Don Giuseppe Flores is dead.”
“Flores? Who is he?” Noemi did not remember him, and Jeanne chided her sharply, as if such forgetfulness rendered her unworthy of her position of confidante. Don Giuseppe Flores was the old Venetian priest who had brought a last message from Piero Maironi to Villa Diedo. Jeanne had then believed that his counsels had decided her lover to renounce the world, and, not satisfied with giving him an icy reception, had wounded him with ironical allusions to his supposed attitude, which she pronounced truly worthy of a servant of the Father of infinite mercy. The old man had answered with such clear understanding, in language so solemn and gentle and so full of spiritual wisdom—his fine face glowing with a radiance from above—that she had ended by begging him not only to forgive her, but to visit her from time to time. He had, in fact, come twice, but on neither occasion had she been at home. She had then sought him out In his solitary villa, and of this visit, of this conversation with the old man so lofty of soul, so humble in heart, so ardent in spirit, so modest and reticent, she had retained an ineffaceable memory. He was dead, they wrote. He had passed away, bowing gently and humbly to the Divine Will. Shortly before his death he had dreamed continually during a long night, of the words addressed to the faithful servant in the parable of the talents: “Ecce superlucratus sum alia quinque,” and his last words had been: “Non fiat voluntas mea sed tua.” Her correspondent was unaware that, in spite of many misgivings, of certain yearning towards religion, Jeanne, stubborn ever, still denied God and immortality as eternal illusions, and if from time to time she went to Mass, it was only to avoid acquiring the undesirable reputation of being a free-thinker.
She did not relate the particulars of Don Giuseppe’s death to Noemi, but pondered them herself with a vague, deeply bitter consciousness of how different her destiny might have been, had she been able to believe; for at the bottom of Piero Maironi’s soul there had always lurked a hereditary tendency to religion, and to-day she was convinced that when, on the night of the eclipse, she had confessed her unbelief, she had written her own condemnation in the book of destiny.”
Antonio Fogazzaro (25 maart 1842 – 7 maart 1911)