I just love days like these! by Robert-Paul Jansen
My experience made me understand that the best way to stop feeling that time is fleeing is just to sit somewhere for a while. I discovered that living within silence is rejuvenating. That the parade of hours is busier than the ploughing-through of miles. That the eye never tires of splendour.
We have come to consider unbeautiful nature deserving of attention (and potentially, of preservation) and the process has dialled up scepticism about ‘natural’ beauty more generally. The bouquet of cut flowers gives away nothing of the stooped labour required to cultivate it, nor the agrochemicals that prolong unblemished blooms, the emissions generated by transportation and refrigeration, or the species supplanted by commercial hothouses. The sublime landscape, emptied of people, does not tell of the evictions required to create a nature reserve. To equate the beautiful with the good is to disregard how beautiful things come to be. According to its critics, this is beauty’s insidious underside: how beauty is normalised as apolitical and even trivial, when in fact it is neither.
In the absence of ocean, I have the field
and I walk there with the dogs
on a chain. One who won’t shut up,
the other large and grave
with his patient look—we all survey
gray sky, gray woods, absence
turning the season. A scrimshaw of ice
is water’s only possibility.
The field is married to silence, a cloud
lying across it, and when it lifts
no horizon takes my eye. No glory of night
falling at sea, light’s limitless plane.
In the field, containment
is everything, locked as it is
by evergreen shade. The ground
darkens to a threat.
Why not accept the bounds,
love the confined self?
In the world of appearances, teach me
to believe in the unseen.
I watch where I put my foot—no sound
in this universe but that reassuring thud.
Is it an empty house, the body alone
with its weary old clothes
or its bullet holes and severed arteries,
last laugh still shining in its teeth?
The road of answers leaps its ditch
and descends a dusty hollow
where nightbirds coo, Pass by, and the Angel
of Nothingness does his nails.
Often sky dazzles
over the great breathing earth.
Often of its own accord the grain begins again
to simmer. Deep in the dark
I find my wife’s hand and listen
as the blue trees bow and bend and I want my soul
to tell about itself almost
And it says I, too, am a traveler.
Wait for me.
Dear happiness, forgive me;
you are not what I make histories of,
never the word inside my words:
the bright seed on the tongue
of the parakeet, lime green and chatty.
We both know you are nonsense mostly,
contrary to belief quite flightless
on your trapeze. Here now, you could be
the red worm burning in its peach;
even as I sink my teeth the blush
is fading into memoir. So it is with any star
eaten by the plain speech of day.
And what could be more fortunate,
which is why I know so little about you,
why I cannot repeat what I loved
more than these losses taken to heart.
We grow large in memory and sleep,
fluffing the pillows of our bodies,
our broken teeth turning to money:
I dreamt of you on a bicycle in the rain.
The sky was cloudless and shiny,
and I too was burning, a windy planet
liquid at the core, palmed in rain.
Then the dream was empty,
and there was only the body brimming over
with darkness, and I woke, speechless,
mouthing the sweet dark air of the room.