Thursday 6 February 2020

Ilja Leonard Pfeijffer: Idyll 4


We have to learn how we are to revere things and
to moor our veering thoughts as if they had found land
to smooth, unruffled edges of a wind-still glass.
Each thing retains a memory of what it was
before it in our hands acquired a life as thing.
Through paper walls it listens to some other thing
in an adjoining room. The cutlery for fish
can just relax enjoying life there in its dish
rack, while the cupboard’s glasses clandestinely chink,
the napkins crinkle and the bright spoons shyly clink.
They quietly wait till we for them arrange a do
at festive tables flanked by smiling people, who
thankfully waltzing with a scintillating wine
propose a toast that things exist while here they dine.
Each breaking glass leaves cupboard’s plates quite unconsoled
and then festivities are duly put on hold.
The wisest things are simply useless, more or less.
They never gnash their teeth or wring their hands from stress
because of targets, rearing children, and high prices
like those who, flattened by fast living and its vices,
dash off in great distress into lethargic queues
like groggy boxers into ropes. Front soldiers lose
their lives in orphaned cohorts, are mown down in droves
in every morning rush hour. He who sows troves
of hope reaps comedowns. Quick’s too late, despite its twists.
The thing that’s useless hopes for nothing. It exists.
You find it on a sideboard or a window ledge,
or lying in a drawer or attic plank’s far edge,
street marketers can’t sell it – all they can is give.
It’s not too late as yet. We have to learn to live.
The oldest hunter, when he reads tracks made that day
will smell the wind, the fear, the sweat, become his prey.
He knows the time of caterpillars, spider’s webs.
His task is being there, not wanting to possess.                         
Small leaves are by the moving current borne downstream.
This is a thing that moves things greatly, and they seem
to softly start to crackle at the sight. Contrive
for me a drawer where I may live: I live. I strive
no more for living striving, living will suffice.
Do you remember all the hats you’ve worn, their price?
Or all the beds you’ve slept in? Small things at your feet
you always would bend down and pick up off the street?
The hats, bed, tiny coins all this still recall.
Your imprint in the duvet matters most of all.
That’s what the pillow lives for. Never will forget.
All the small hats that on your head you’ve ever set
remember well your thoughts. Your home street also knows
with great precision just from where to where it goes.
And does so willingly. For you. You often fail
to see it though or small notes left behind as mail
which state: ‘We must revere things, and at every turn.
From silent things we have to dare to learn.’

No comments: