This is a word we use to plug holes with. It's the right size for those warm blanks in speech, for those red heart- shaped vacancies on the page that look nothing like real hearts. Add lace and you can sell it. We insert it also in the one empty space on the printed form that comes with no instructions. There are whole magazines with not much in them but the word love, you can rub it all over your body and you can cook with it too. How do we know it isn't what goes on at the cool debaucheries of slugs under damp pieces of cardboard? As for the weed- seedlings nosing their tough snouts up among the lettuces, they shout it. Love! Love! sing the soldiers, raising their glittering knives in salute.
Then there's the two of us. This word is far too short for us, it has only four letters, too sparse to fill those deep bare vacuums between the stars that press on us with their deafness. It's not love we don't wish to fall into, but that fear. this word is not enough but it will have to do. It's a single vowel in this metallic silence, a mouth that says O again and again in wonder and pain, a breath, a finger grip on a cliffside. You can hold on or let go.
I Because we used to have leaves and on damp days our muscles feel a tug, painful now, from when roots pulled us into the ground
and because our children believe they can fly, an instinct retained from when the bones in our arms were shaped like zithers and broke neatly under their feathers
and because before we had lungs we knew how far it was to the bottom as we floated open-eyed like painted scarves through the scenery of dreams, and because we awakened
and learned to speak
2 We sat by the fire in our caves, and because we were poor, we made up a tale about a treasure mountain that would open only for us
and because we were always defeated, we invented impossible riddles only we could solve, monsters only we could kill, women who could love no one else and because we had survived sisters and brothers, daughters and sons, we discovered bones that rose from the dark earth and sang as white birds in the trees
3 Because the story of our life becomes our life
Because each of us tells the same story but tells it differently
and none of us tells it the same way twice
Because grandmothers looking like spiders want to enchant the children and grandfathers need to convince us what happened happened because of them
and though we listen only haphazardly, with one ear, we will begin our story with the word and
'I also make you witness to a process which has changed my lens on the world. But this process of change has only just begun, and I feel keenly the tension between the artistic forms within which we have agreed to abide and the living material, borne to me by my senses, my psychic apparatus, and my thought, which has resisted these forms. If I may formulate a poetological problem so soon, let it be this: There is and there can be no poetics which prevents the living experience of countless perceiving subjects from being killed and buried in art objects. So, does that mean that art objects ("works") are products of the alienation of our culture, whose other finished products are produced for self-annihilation?'
Wolf, Christa, 1984. Conditions of a narrative. In: Wolf, Christa, 1984. Cassandra: a novel and four essays. Translated from
German by Jan van Heurck. London: Virago, p.142
If I should die to-night, My friends would look upon my quiet face Before they laid it in its resting-place, And deem that death had left it almost fair; And, laying snow-white flowers against my hair, Would smooth it down with tearful tenderness, And fold my hands with lingering caress, -- Poor hands, so empty and so cold to-night!
If I should die to-night, My friends would call to mind with loving thought Some kindly deed the icy hands had wrought, Some gentle word the frozen lips had said, Errands on which the willing feet had sped; The memory of my selfishness and pride, My hasty words would all be put aside, And so I should be loved and mourned to-night.
If I should die to-night, Even hearts estranged would turn once more to me, Recalling other days remorsefully; The eyes that chill me with averted glance Would look upon me as of yore, perchance, And soften in the old familiar way, For who could war with dumb, unconscious clay? So I might rest, forgiven of all to-night.
Oh, friends! I pray to-night, Keep not your kisses for my dead, cold brow: The way is lonely, let me feel them now. Think gently of me; I am travelworn; My faltering feet are pierced with many a thorn. Forgive, oh, hearts estranged, forgive, I plead! When dreamless rest is mine I shall not need The tenderness for which I long to-night.