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As I Was
As I was at the start
so, all along, I have remained.
The way I began, so I will go on to the end.
Like the convict who, returning
to his village, goes on being silent.
Speechless he sits in front of his glass of wine.
— János Pilinszky (trans. János Csokits & Ted Hughes)
I meet her in a square. She is dressed like a courtesan. First light, another time. Resentience, yet impoverished the same way, by illness as much as estrangement from material wealth. The illness resembles the carving of slivers from a mass. We carry a hundredweight of love. She intercepts my hand at her cheek, lays it instead around her breast. All happiness is on her lips, her waiting kiss —
I see her across a square. She is dressed like a highwayman. First light. A veil of fog for a face. She passes through the archway and I have no words to call out with, no language. All sadness is in this parting sight of her, a sliver carved from a mass —
I meet her in a square. She is dressed like a highwayman. A dangerous passion. I can hardly breathe, she says. I think: The illness… She demands: Why did you stay away so long? as prone as when I held her naked up against a wall: What are you waiting for? I press my lips to her neck, to fog —
I see her across a square. She is dressed like a courtesan. Resentience. A hundredweight of love —
Give in when outnumbered, but as prisoner speak in an ununderstandable language.
— Paul Celan (trans. Pierre Joris)
Who has put this weight in me
The weight of a rose that does not wither
The weight of an egg that doesn’t fall
The weight of a hammer that doesn’t strike
God, let me wake one morning to your
lightness, go out whistling into your light
— Agneta Pleijel (trans. Anne Born)
(High up on a brown wall
At the cancer institute
A wild fern dwells
In drippings from steam
Pluming from a rusted vent.
Under each hour
And sings hoarsely.)
the peace lily
To the sun!
blinking in the changes.
sick to the teeth,
State-regulated obstruction of death, of euphemistic-sounding ‘euthanasia’, is also a symptom of capitalism’s limitless entitlement; not its lack of limit, but its holy immortal conviction that it is the moneylender to whom Christ gave his blessing:
‘You may not die until we have used up everything we can control in an effort to preserve you,’ says capitalism, and:
‘You may not die until the mass of our conviction is undone by the unspoken,’ and:
‘Now you may die, but who among you will pay the first bill?’)