Uit: After the Blue Hour
“After dinner we sat on the deck in cushioned wooden chairs whose backs could be lowered like those on beach chairs. The deck extended partially over the lake, at the edge of which the sun had left behind hints of the blue radiance soon to come. We lingered, drinking a cool wine Paul had just opened, different from the one that had accompanied dinner. Evening had brought no respite from the heat. Paul had served the wine —carefully less for Stanty, a fact he surprisingly accepted; he sat cross-legged on the floor next to the chair Sonya had occupied. Standing, I stared out toward the horizon, Sonya next to me. All that remained of the sunlight was a golden arc already fading as a thin veil of darkness glided over it. A deep blue glow loomed over the water. “I never tire of the sunset on the lake,” Sonya said, “especially at its last moments.” “It’s the blue hour,” I told her. “How beautiful. The blue hour. What is that, John?” she asked. “It’s not an hour at all, just a few seconds of blue light between dusk and night,” I said. It was a light I cherished. On the beach in Santa Monica, I would linger on the sand waiting for the start of sunset, an orange spill over the horizon, soon veiled by a blue darkening light. Gulls would fly onto the beach, gathering at the shoreline, beaks pointed at the water. Often, lithe bodies came to perform a dance of tai chi at the edge of the ocean. Their graceful motions seemed to me to acknowledge and confront the night. “Some people claim that’s when everything reveals itself as it is, Sonya.” I was cherishing her rapt attention. “They say everything is both clearest and most obscure—a light that challenges perception, revealing and hiding ” “I like that,” Sonya said, “revealing and hiding.” Stanty stood up, pressing himself sideways against Sonya, hugging her, trying to distance her from me, I suspected. Sonya laughed softly at his tight embrace, easing him away fondly. “Dark and light at the same time!” Stanty said, looking at me. “That’s not possible, is it, Sonya?” Sonya said, “It is. Look!” She pointed across the lake. The blue cast was almost gone. “It’s gone,” she said wistfully. “Such mysterious ambiguity.”
Onto the deck, the soft hypnotic rhythm of Milhaud’s La Creation du Monde wafted through hidden speakers from the lower level of the house. I was amused to notice that Stanty, back on the floor and next to Sonya, now reclining in her chair, had carried away with him from the table the plate of assorted jams, taking a spoonful every so often, a gesture so childish that I wondered how he reconciled it with his posture of maturity. Gathering clouds and a frail moon cast a misty shroud over the forsaken, distant island. I sat next to Sonya on the other side of Stanty. Facing us, reclining on his chair, Paul shifted into another subject—I would discover later that he might also shift from one subject to another, abandon it, and then resume it exactly where he had ended it, even if on the next day. “And so, man, you write in intimate first person about your own experiences—in order to lie, as you claim?” It did please me that he had retained that from our brief conversation earlier today. Today! I had not been here a full day, and yet I felt I had been pulled into this fantastic group. “Yeah,” I answered Paul, not yet able easily to address him as “man,” “because memory writes its own narrative.”
Mijn broer, in zijn kleine witte bed,
hield een uiteinde vast.
Ik trok aan het andere
Als sein dat ik nog wakker was.
We hadden kunnen spreken
we waren in dezelfde kamer
vijf jaar lang,
maar het zachte koord
met zijn kleine gerafelde uiteinden
in het donker,
zelfs als we de hele dag
Wanneer hij als eerste in slaap viel
en zijn uiteinde van het koord
op de grond viel,
miste ik hem vreselijk,
hoewel ik zijn gelijkmatige ademhaling kon horen
en we zulke lange en gescheiden levens
voor ons hadden.
Vertaald door Frans Roumen