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They cannot take the sky

When I was outside prison I knew that the sky was beautiful, nature was beautiful. But I found nature power and beauty in Manus. The sky is like a friend for a prisoner, because around you everything is metal fences, but the sky, they cannot take the sky.

I think the Manus moon is too special. Sometimes the moon is crazy because the clouds are moving, and sometimes it’s calm, quiet. Once I described the moon as a pregnant woman because on that night the moon was so quiet and, like, heavy. I always find the moon to be a woman. I wrote another poem that described the moon and Manus Island as two sisters, in the sky and the blue ocean.

Sometimes, it’s too hard to have a relationship with people, because you always see them. During the day you see people — ‘Hi, hello, hello, hello’— and the space is too small and you cannot say hello to people each time and the best way to escape is that you make direct contact with nature

Behrouz Boochani’s story in They Cannot Take the Sky: Stories from Detention ed Michael Green Andre Dao. The stories in the book were told in a series of interviews and then transcribed.

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The need for love

The need for love is the central experience of our existence. However foolish it may seem, we feel truly alive only when we have an arrow in our side and that we drag around night and day, everywhere we go. The need for love sweeps away every other need and, on the other hand, motivates all our actions. Read Book 4 of the Aeneid. The construction of Carthage stops when Dido falls in love. . . .

Individuals and cities without love are a danger to themselves and others.

Elena Ferrante, Frantumaglia p72

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Stepping through the door into the tree

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Dream

Dimitri tells me his dream. “I’m on a beach, dressed in armor, beautiful metal, but very cumbersome. A powerful voice orders me to go into the water. I am extremely upset, because with this armor, I will certainly drown. At the same time, I cannot avoid the obligation to go into the sea. So I go forward in great anxiety, knowing that the armor will stop me from swimming. I wade into the sea until I’m almost submerged. Just when I feel completely overwhelmed with panic, the armor suddenly opens, and I find I am swimming, free and happy.”

[This is the response to the dream from the psychologist who has been sitting with him  in his moments of dying]

Dimitr’s dream tells him of a terror that will give way of its own accord as soon as he agrees to commit himself to the waves. Coming into the palliative care unit could be experienced as entering a sea in which one knows one will drown. And doesn’t the dream also announce a kind of miracle: being freed from the armor, or rather, the social face he has forged for himself like an iron mask? The sea of death transforms itself into the sea of life; the dream says in living his death, he would also experience liberation and happiness.

Marie de Hennezel: How The Dying Teach us to Live, Trans Carol Brown Janeway

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Thinking but not saying

How quiet you are, my aunt said.

 

It was true —

sounds weren’t coming out of my mouth. And yet

they were in my head, expressed, possibly,

as something less exact, thought perhaps,

though at the time they still seemed like sounds to me.

Something was there where there had been nothing.

Or should I say, nothing was there

but it had been defiled by questions —

Louise Gluck, Faithful and Virtuous Night, p 13

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An artist speaks

When I say (in German) I’m a painter [Malerin] that is not he same as when a man says he is a painter [Maler] . If a man wants to convey the same meaning as me then he would have to say that he was a painting man. When I say I’m a painter then the significance of my statement lies primarily in that I’m describing not what I do but in that I do it as a woman . With the sentence “I’m a painter [Malerin]”, I differentiate myself and am differentiated from men who are painters. My vocabulary confines me to the company of women who are painters and thus my painting, too, is primarily considered with this limited context. Language confines women to segregated spaces, denies them any claim to universality which would put them in relation to all human beings . . . I want to put my painting in a relationship to all painting and that is not just out of personal ambition ..

Gisela Breitling.. (German artist born 1939)

(from here) 

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Looking at a photograph of one’s mother

Several weeks ago I discovered a photograph of my mother

sitting in the sun, her face flushed as with achievement or triumph.

The sun was shining. The dogs

were sleeping at her feet where time was also sleeping,

calm and unmoving as in all photographs.

 

I wiped the dust from my mother’s face.

Indeed dust covered everything; it seemed to me the persistent

haze of nostalgia that protects all relics of childhood.

. . . .

from A Summer Garden , Louise Gluck

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Pretending everything is normal

People near me don’t know how difficult it is to pretend that nothing

happened, that everything is normal.

Czeslaw Milosz, Notebook, 

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To cherish doubt

Every Catholic is raised to be devout and love the Gospels, but I was spoiled by the Old Testament. I was very young when I started reading, and the Old Testament sucked me in. I was at the age of magical thinking and believed sticks could change to serpents, a voice might speak from a burning bush, angels wrestled with people. After I went to school and started catechism I realized that religion was about rules. I remember staring at a neighbor’s bridal-wreath bush. It bloomed every year but was voiceless. No angels, no parting of the Red River. It all seemed so dull once I realized that nothing spectacular was going to happen.

I’ve come to love the traditional Ojibwe ceremonies, and some rituals, but I hate religious rules. They are usually about controlling women. On Sundays when other people go to wood-and-stone churches, I like to take my daughters into the woods. Or at least work in the garden and be outside. Any god we have is out there. I’d hate to be certain that there was nothing. When it comes to God, I cherish doubt.

Louise Erdrich, interview in The Paris Review

(from here) 

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Girl reading at airport

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