Sunday, February 25, 1996

February 25

A few words by the roadside fires burning, the stubborn path and mandate of the propagandist, to call this world into question. The open door leading out of the brilliant light and colorful society into nothingness, into desire and inconsolable grief. The long trip through the water in which the corpse has been washed. Secret language giving new names to the muddled interior, upset over the whole world left alive. A region of plains, abysses and difficulties, entirely lacking the right system, for extinction or return. Flushed, beautiful, morbid, blind as ever. Invention, a refined instrument, stood there in the eighteenth century. Philosophy sang, fell silent, played according to the rules, flowed on wordlessly to some forgotten station of the inexhaustible autumn in the heart, while all the rest hung swaying beneath the coffin with burning eyes. Away into the next century, to strike a flame deep in the woods slantwise, sending out light over the whole field, and over the dust of the village square. Of the town violently reminded of who has already once (more than once) been buried. No more than six feet of earth in the graveyard between Babylon and Berlin. A wealth of anecdotes of sometimes almost unbearable melancholy. Too much dust and rain out of every furrow. Enough to drown in. The bitter smell of leaves brewed in the dark German-Polish woods. In the open meadow stands the factory, shimmering. Electric lights burning, black plumes out of the endless forest.

Nightmares that have awakened and endured years in a bare stone chamber. Living like a suicide in the midst of millions, tugged step by step through the beet fields, heads bent, with all our wheat and no customs. Remained in the world to climb back across the fence with which the whole thing started. The soundless laughter coming nearer behind birches and beeches on the mounds and ridges. This unpeopled landscape is hidden in nonchalant movements of the hand, dead birds falling into the sea, blossoms half-shut. Torches bloom like roses groping over the earth, already burning and the orchestra playing and passion rules the universe.

The world returns to dust. Dirty, lilac-colored, dead. Consumed, and bled away. The earth in a dream and full of darkness. Down again, and up again and down, this idiotic succession of one thing after another. Of slow ruination, of arson, of shots fired in the night. Very late all staircases creak, a scarcely-audible song from a forced slaughtering. Embattled women still linger, walking on blood-stained feathers on the earth that is moving nowhere. Children in their sorrow condemned to stand there forever in the agonizing intervals of stupid infirmity. The paperweight again, the fist, the hasty greedy notation of the instant, analyzed in schools. Bent forward and half dead, stunned by verses, sobbing, hemmed in by the shadowy walls, among all these figures in a densely-populated unknown street. The same tone a hundred times, stirred by pictures of the tomb, of flowers, tiny flags on submerged masts. Uncertainty remains, making it impossible to recognize the smell of bone glue beneath the tapping of canes and umbrellas. Death seems to be a little speech that was bound to occur, swift, dry, down to earth, aligns the flags and smoothes out the false notes, halts and distributes more sawdust beneath the body, last year’s snows at certain points in the refrain. The finished machine howls with a dark voice that grows hoarse, drags the whole world to zenith in the gleaming sky.

Agitated, tranquilized, the capture of strange birds. The factory, the railroad, the animals left in the dusty suburb. All the resignation of the world given up for lost. No end to man’s tears and woman’s blood. Scorched by unsociable passions. Clenched fists, chunks of iron. Her answer would be unbearable, a rhymeless novel piled out of the endless mechanical music onto the ground after a long ride. Allusions to actions inscribing brazen figures of inflamed old women flying on in front in pursuit of their banners. Each figure has its own price. Smile and kiss the bruised flesh. Moving a passionless head so as not to see the world spread out, dropped out of the blue, suddenly deleted at the last pages, disappeared under her body. Beneath an ambiguous protection in the vicinity of the dangerous.

Vanished, returned. Ossified, clean as a body placed under glass. Eating in silence under the darkness of trees. All awareness of the possible abandoned. Through the darkness, barefooted, straight through the heart of the earth to the home of illusion, our old Europe.

Into the empty apartment, without changing.

An appropriate lapse of time to disappoint poor girls.

The twilight of the ghetto made the beginnings more mysteriously involved. Time to pieces, death to pieces. Precious utensils from an altar. Earth as a fixed disk loosening its arc lamps and flagpoles upon our graves. Importance and consequence seek their homeward path to a mass grave. Mouths agape at the fantastic tale - because they are so different? Nothing to corroborate this, not a document to submit to the court, more in nature of a warning, whispered, murmured, muttered between the factory and the rails, building it on the bones of small children, impregnated with the smell of leeks and Jewish destiny. Mere scribbles in the margin of the real book. Like raindrops in the leaves.

Opening another old bottle. Let this foreigner talk. A reflection of radiation and allure in dark wine. An echo, a demand clung fast to the coarse and fragmentary language of timorousness in its ardent cup. Tower, arsenal, prayer-book, mysterious islands on white paper ground. All the constellations and seasons in silent choreography. Sky extinguished, flags drowned, everything save tears vanishing in some fervid hour.

Nothing to give in return for all this measureless magnificence. Heart so inured to stubborn resistence to the old tenacious habit, this universe, a collector, earth, rock, leaves, roots, every possible thing in their old cases lined with satin, hung motionless in all the rooms with pictures, papers, books, letters. Everything occupied, vanished again into the other, reading to much upon the object in its desolate landscape. The purely chemical tendency to march by the figures, salute, march by, salute, march by as though possessed, overstrung by every longing.

Sophisticated man of our late age, risen on the daily performance, as the adornment of the world. Mechanical orphans on the stage, flung out of the round of ordinary life with a forged passport, dispersed and untrained, without a history and catapulted out of nowhere onto the struggling shore where fiddle and music lay with the sweetness of self-destruction and gypsy oblivion.

By that shore, in a torn net, scythes, nails, leather and accordians, blackened by the smoke of centuries. A litter of boxes with skulls silhouetted like shadows against the snow around the morgue and police stations, their slender spires turning slowly in the shadowy and confused past.

The cinder track casts a long shadow imperturbably and vertically from the chimney. Motionless in the falling snow. This is the sorrow of the Nibelungen, lines drawn, scores kept, victors cheered in suburbs iced over with yellow urine. Sad, detached selves entangled in the forbidding spokes. Something loose and lifeless in a house of Finland granite.

How slow the acquisition of things one needs to know.

Too slow in following to prevent the barrel-fever that rises through the darkness with a ferocity now impossible to describe, collapses to the floor and begins to cut into the indescribable, looking for the mechanism inside us. Ruthlessly, as though forever impossible to break open against moorings. Returning loudly, plummeting onto the floor, under the ceiling and down to the nineteenth century, calling the laws of gravity into question. Many traditions and sanctuaries destroyed, extinguished in the softened and passionate condition. A dangerously productive environment. Freedom from the object. No lights, no merry-go-round, a sloping shore down to a funeral in the third act. A strange procession, the girls in order, functioning, marching into the birch woods darkening on both sides. Breathing their warm breath through black masks, approaching the iron temple in the snow, in utter silence, Gutenberg’s iron book burning in their open mouths.

The fading sky. All that dies. The line and the line’s line, over the snow and leaving no trace.

To burn in one of those magnificent graves of a human heart in the land of roses.

A piece of it for myself, a tiny piece.