A book of poetry

To read a few lines each day like a cat lapping milk, nourishing the soul.

Words of the ancients or the new, all wise poets bequeathing us with words like a soothing pearl necklace.

But the world threw a spear at slowness. Nowadays, few read the words of the wise.

Maybe this year, instead of giving trinkets, give a book of poetry. Wether it is read or used as a door stop, it does not matter; the very presence of the book will shine bright in the house of your friend.

Kenza.

Inspiration: slowness and reading poetry. 

Little pieces of paper

Little pieces of paper are sprinkled throughout my days.

I tend to note instructions as I have the hardest time remembering them, let alone understanding them. So I write them down on little pieces of paper: a childlike drawn map of the way to an appointment, the exact address, the items I need to get at the market, the recipe for a dish, the instructions for the rice cooker, and so on…

Mind you, I have been making crêpes for decades and yet, every time I make the dough, I have to check my little recipe notebook and keep it open until I am done.

Maybe it is why I prefer to walk quietly in a forest with no particular purpose, rather than go to an appointment; or cook a dish that relies on an acute sense of smell and a love of colours, rather than measurements.

Everyday I use tricks to pretend I can follow instructions, little pieces of paper tucked inside my pocket.

But life… it comes without instructions and I have no pieces of paper to help me. There is no “mode d’emploi.”

So I also use tricks to pretend I am here, that I understand what others tell me, that I relate to them even if I am often baffled by the hollowness of it all. Accompany me one day to pick-up my son from school, and drop on a parents’ conversation, you may then understand. So I just smile, say a few insipid words and check the door to see if my son is coming out. The same applies to most situations.

Some may think it is sad to be so exiled from the world, to fail to be engaged in social niceties. I admit it has its downside.

And yet most of the time, I find that to be absent from the world is a blessing. Silence and solitude are most comforting when you consider the amount of absurdities that surrounds us on a daily basis. My absence takes away nothing from the world; and it enables me to see the details that often go unoticed and, at times, have some of the most enlightened exchanges with perfect strangers or a dandelion. You know what I mean if you have read my poetry.

So I will remain as I am, taking life one day at a time. I will be the one strolling along museum corridors aware of the discreet light emanating from a painting, or walking down the street aware of the sparrows watching me from a balcony, and also the one standing in line at the supermarket aware that the lady in front of me cried all night.

I will remain quiet and will take in the beautiful and the tragic. Being absent allows it to happen. And then I might write about it on little pieces of paper and come here to share them with you.

Kenza.

Art – Van Eyck

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Detail from “Portrait of Giovanni Arnolfini and his wife,” by the Master of Northern Renaissance Jan Van Eyck (Bruges, d.1441), painted in 1434.

Van Eyck, known for his illustrated manuscripts, portraits and of course the Ghent Altarpiece (dated 1432), brought life into the scenery and the people he painted like no one before him. He helped define a new trend in art where painting became the medium of grandeur or “the art of arts” as it became known, rather than tapestry or architecture.

He defied the Church (then divided between Rome and Avignon) in many ways, especially for portraying religious figures with human feelings. Yet, he was adored by the nobility (especially the Duke of Burgundy) and the common man who in the aftermath of the great plague, saw renewal and hope in his art, most particularly for his use of light.

Painting on display at the National Gallery, London.