19.2.19

Alice in Wonderland

It is very possible in this city that you walk home hungry in the light of a supermoon and you pass a tray with small chocolate croissants leaning on a garbage bin asking to be eaten. And you try one and although it isn't as fresh as it was this morning when they were baked, it still tastes like magic.

watching

yes, the sunrise at 7.40 was beautiful but not as beautiful as the attempt of a young father to show his 3 month old daughter the sea 10 minutes afterwards

14.2.19

The heart of a city

(I wrote this last year on the 14th of February, still here, still in love ..... )


I wasn’t raised to live in a city. I was educated by trees and birds and mud and the scent of wet leaves. I hung out at hidden corners in the forest on my own, I knew what berries to eat and what mushrooms to leave alone. In my mind there was a map of the locations of all the chestnut trees in places where no regular walking trail was leading.
I learned not to be afraid of the big grasshoppers jumping around in the fava bean field when I was cutting off the tops of the plants that were almost as tall as I was small. I developed the soft touch necessary to hold last year’s old wrinkled potatoes in my hand without damaging the new young roots and putting them in the small holes my grandfather had dug in the garden. I made ink out of aok galls before I learned to write and I made soup from rainwater and insects and rosebuds before I learned to cook.
I still get a sense of belonging when I see a cornfield. And when I spend time in nature a hole fills up in my heart that I had forgotten was there all the time.

I dream of moving to the countryside. And I could. Easily. There is nothing really that keeps me tied to this city to which I’ve been coming back to in the last three years and I now call my home. Where I no longer lie awake at night because the street noise invades the silence of my room. Where my garden is a square meter slab of concrete with plants hanging from the metal railing and crowding the area around the tiny table and chair I sit on every day around 17.30 to catch the only 10 minutes of straight sunshine filtered by the big plane trees planted all along the busy road.

There is little here of some of the things I always thought would be indispensible for me to feel at ease. But because of that, the little there is is something I cherish immensely and enjoy deeply. The avocado plant that unexpectedly grew out of a seed I threw in some old plant material. The lonely broccoli plant that was part of a group of 10, overcrowding the balcony and not producing anything but leaves so they were discarded apart from one that now, a year after I planted the seedlings, is producing flowers that will seed and might give me more than the 10 plants I started out with. The sound of the birds at night attracted by the street lights. The changing patterns of the tree trunks. The sky that is blue every day even on days when it is grey. The word for blue in a language so different from my mother tongue. Azul. A word like a magic spell.

So why am I still here? It is simple. It is the same old story we walk into again and again.
I fell in love. Head over heels. Love at first sight. A love that grew stronger through time and I still don’t completely understand. A love that was tested, I wasn’t always faithful. I always returned though. But this winter, my third winter here, I seriously started thinking about whether I shouldn’t make a move. Find more green under the blue, find more silence, find more room to grow things. Replant myself. Leave her.

Her.

I am not sure if this city is feminin. My favorite blue here is masculin by language but in other tongues the sea is feminin or neutral. Das Meer. La mer. El mar. I stubbornly adress it as “her” as well.

Barcelona. I learned to pronounce it in the right way, even though saying ‘th” when reading “c” still doesn’t come naturally. I understand more and more of what the locals are saying but my speaking skills are not what I was hoping they would be after having been around for a quarter of a decade. In my conversations with this city it doesn’t matter though. We understand each other somehow. I read her from my balcony daily. I leave my footsteps in her streets in the morning when I walk to the sea. When I need something I find it. Warm winter sweaters folded up in a bag next to the garbage containers. Abandoned plants about to bloom left on the sidewalk. Wine glasses. Books.
We fit each other. We feel comfortable in each other’s company. We get tired of each other now and then. When we aren’t attentive. When we’re caught up in our individual drama’s. Histories. Future planning.

“Maybe I should leave” I thought this morning when I walked through narrow streets on Valentine’s day. But then she put her oddly shaped heart at my feet, like a shooting star. And I fell for it again.

I guess I am learning about my true nature. It isn’t carved in stone. Only sometimes for a moment. For my eyes only. I wasn't raised to live in a city. But I wasn't raised to not live in a city either. I was educated by nature and now I am learning from a place that happens to be a city. And I know it is foolish to start a love affair with a place made out of stone when you really want to be surrounded by fields and forests and mountains. But the longing for the countryside is a vacant plot in my body that is a good nurturing place for sprouting words. So for now I stick to growing small stories. And she is a generous supplier of seeds.

(14-2-2018, Barcelona)

11.2.19

A thought can change in a second

First thought: so sad that somebody buys a tree and discards it. Second thought: how wonderful somebody kept it for so long.

6.2.19

Anticipation


It is the moment before the sun rises that is the most precious one. The clarity and the silence, the world in anticipation of the spectacle that is about to begin. "The most ordinary thing in the whole cosmos." It is the moment when I miss the dog that will appear in the sky tomorrow.

Weather forecast
 
Tomorrow we will see unsettled and unusual weather.
Instead of the sun rising at 05:24, a dog will rise,
a fiery red dog that will climb up through the sky,
wearing an iron chain round its neck,
and it will growl at the clouds
that will hastily make room for him.
At 13:37 he will be at the zenith and bark,
he’ll bend forward and chase everyone inside
                                                           with his furious scowl.
‘The dog is shining! The dog is shining!’ everyone will whisper,
but the dog won’t shine, the dog will yank at his chain
and bare his teeth.
Late in the afternoon he will descend to the horizon and howl.
Everyone will emerge again,
sit down on their benches outside their houses and say:
‘O dog, why are you howling . . . ’
People will want to pat him and console him
or give him something to eat.
But no one will be able to reach him
and everyone will close their eyes and let the howling
wash over them.
At 21:51 the dog will go down and never return.
The day after tomorrow the sun will shine again,
that big, round, dazzling thing that everyone knows,
the most ordinary thing in the whole cosmos,
that had already existed for billions of years before there was any mention
of a sky or a firmament,
and that does nothing but rise, set and shine.
It will be a pleasant day.
But should you wonder, the day after tomorrow, why you’re so sad,
it will be because you miss the dog,
the dog that will appear in the sky tomorrow.

- Toon Tellegen, translation: Judith Wilkinson

Original in Dutch & video of Toon Tellegen reading it here: https://www.poetryinternationalweb.net/…/item/…/poem_english