Toteninsel

Inspired by an evening, roaming through the second floor of the Alte Nationalgalerie in Berlin

 

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In the morning I went to the gym and trained as usual, carefully.  I felt relaxed, the dizziness was gone. Back home, the most important person had gone to her own class. We would meet later, and I had time to prepare breakfast. First I sorted the gym clothes, making sure the wet towel and T-shirt were hung out to dry. The air was still cold but the sun was shining. The clear new bright sun of February. I closed the door of the balcony. Suddenly the dizziness had come back, like a small cloud out of nowhere. I laid out the breakfast table, poured a cup of coffee. The pain in my left arm was now sharper. I was used to it. The price for keeping fit was to be in permanent pain, or so I had told myself, long ago. I sat down, breathed deeply. The apartment was silent, I could only hear the deep growl of traffic, down on the avenue, and the crows exchanging gossips, up there on the roof. I had time. The most important person would not be back for another hour. I decided to write a short note: “Feeling a little tired, if I am asleep when you come back, just wake me up, softly! Xx”

I decided to lie down on the sofa, pulled the light blanket over the pain, smiling. The crows had gone silent. The traffic noise seemed to recede. The pain had moved from the arm to somewhere  between the shoulder and the middle of the chest. All at once it grew even sharper. There was no surprise, I had long expected this: not a question of if, merely when. My vision had gone vague, all sounds had receded. I felt a great calm, just the pain, invasive, and I knew I was going. Soon it was dark. A last thought was how simple this was.

The separation came later. How much time had gone by then, I could not even imagine. The pain had gone, only remained utter lightness. The light was dimmed. The room and the surface where I had rested were gone. Moving felt easy. Was it really moving? Exploring without motion, rather. Was this still me? These questions felt unimportant. I sensed, rather than looked, around. There was a shore, an expanse of water. No sound.

Then I saw him. I knew immediately who he was, although he looked much younger than I had expected. Charon’s eyes betrayed his apparent youthfulness. He was deaf, but his benevolent words came clear to my mind. “I was expecting you earlier, and I am pleased to see you.” Then a little later – but what did that mean now? – “Take place when you are ready, there is plenty of time.”

I stood at the front of the boat, exactly as in the painting. Standing, I was aware of the long white robe, of the hood. I felt somehow very dignified, at peace. Charon sat at the back, his muscular arms in evidence under the medieval shirt. Without moving I could see his calm face, the kindness of his eyes, and yet the absence of smile. The boat was now moving effortlessly, or rather gliding on the surface of the water. I could see the rudders cutting through in silence. The light was now brighter, under a cloudless but rather dark sky. I had the feeling we were immobile and that it was  the water that was flowing under our boat. 

Then the island was there, at first a small icon, and then the cypresses came into view. The sight of them was a sheer pleasure, a feeling of fulfilment. The dark green contrasted with the pale face of the high walls and rocks at the water edge. A faint mist surrounded the vision. “We have arrived,” said Charon without a word, “don’t worry about your luggage, it will be taken care of.” I only then notice the ancient coffer at my feet. I looked up, saw the small windows on the face of the cliff. Scents: the trees, sea water, salt in the air. I knew there was a cell for me, somewhere deep in the immensity of the island. Lightheaded I turned to the sea: Charon and his boat had gone. Small waves were crushing on the narrow shore. Did I hear sea birds in the sky?

“Wake up lazy bones!” said the most important person, her crystal laugh resonating in the room. The crows were back, and so was the traffic. Why did those legs feel so heavy?

Photo: Arnold Böcklin, die Toteninsel, Alte Nationalgalerie

Die Toteninsel, in Deutsche Wikipedia

Arnold Böcklin, Artikel in Deutsche Wikipedia

Das Gästebuch ist noch immer ein beliebter Weg für Museumsbesucher, sich selbst zu Ausstellungen oder Werken zu äußern.”

Imagination #writephoto

Imagination

art

 

“It’s a puzzle,” I said as we looked up the victorian wall. “There was something there, before, and the artist…” But I realised my companion was not listening, rather he was looking closely at the colours, and delicately taking small samples of the paint he carefully saved in an envelop. “I wish I could take a picture…” Holmes said finally. “I am sure this has been copied from somewhere.”

Later, at no 221B, as we lit our pipes after dinner, Holmes suddenly declared:

“You were right, Watson, it’s an allegory, and of course you have recognised the pavots, your “artist” is a drug dealer, who advertises his ware locally, and the allegory is about the Nirvana of the opium smoker…”

I sat back, and reflected.

You #IWD2017

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You haunt my dreams, you haunt these pages, and the places where I once was, and the ones I haven’t seen yet, indispensable, sometime smiling, sometime not, as if you wanted me to know when I keep to the path of truthfulness, and when I don’t.

In a crowd you always find me, and, in my worst nightmares, I no longer see you…

Without you I wouldn’t be here, just a few mineral atoms lost in vacuum. I would not write, what is a writer without muse? How would I even know that this world existed?

Yet, without me, you would be around for sure, but someone else entirely: her reflection in your eyes would belong to another being, maybe even the opposite of me? Can I imagine that strange being, in a world I know nothing about?

No, you are saying, this couldn’t be, for you have made me, and in many ways, I have made you.

Picture: The river, by Chris De Becker

Chaotic #DailyPost

Today’s Prompt

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“It’s all about geography,” she said in her quiet, matter of fact voice. “You have to draw the map, polish the synopsis, make sure those ghosts of yours translate into real people, people who live, work, love, somewhere!”

“You’re quite right about the map,”I replied, in conciliatory mood, “and there lies the problem. I have several in mind, dependent on when, and who, on past and present, on today and a fleeting tomorrow. As for them…”

“Don’t tell me,” she snapped, “they don’t know where they are! But it’s precisely your job to show them, to guide them, to organise that chaos they find themselves in! Just imagine, being parachuted on the blank page, out of your world, in a different time, without language, without light…”

“I just need to let it rest, for a bit, you know, without rushing to impose order… prematurely… Besides, who am I to rule them about? They may like this lack of walls, this fizziness, the doors open…”

“That’s what I have always thought,” she concluded with a disarming smile, “You are an anarchic writer! I wish I could help!”

Image: Carl Friedrich Seiffert, Die Blaue Grotte auf Capri, 1860 – Alte Nationalgalerie, Berlin

Albrecht Dürer: Hieronymus Holzschuher, 1526

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What is hidden behind the patrician gaze, the powerful shoulders, the venerable beard and white mane? In our Lord’s year of 1526, much is still to happen in your country… But where is your country?  Is it Bavaria? So tells us history… What dreams or wild ambitions do your calm eyes keep away from us?

You could tell us much we would love to know. 1526… the Reformation was nine years old, soon the long wars would start that would ravage the German lands…

Photo: Albrecht Dürer, Hieronymus Holzschuhen – 1526, Gemäldegalerie, Berlin

#FiveSentenceFiction: Open

Michael SowaThe tall cypresses mark the place, their shadows the guardians of the grave, at the edge of the lake.

There, I have come, from the other shore, alone, as befits a pilgrimage.

I know the gate will be open, for today is the day, when his disciples come to celebrate the Master.

Across the sacred threshold, I will slowly approach his altar, knowing you will be there, kneeling.

And my shadow will touch yours, so lightly the angels won’t notice.

 

Image: Michael Sowa, Böcklin’s Toteninsel

#FiveSentenceFiction: Fresh

GloriousWe drove from Flagstaff, and took Route 89 North, under the volcano, our sights on the snow capped San Francisco range.

Soon, in the direction of the Wupatki ruins, home of the Water clan, we saw the Painted Desert in its splendour, stretching as a thin rainbow on the horizon.

We stopped at the Sunset Crater: there you said the ground was alive, with the spirit of your ancestors.

1064 was the year of the great eruption, and after a millennium, the trees are back, their roots deep in the dark grey lava.

Then I said I loved your home, and your smile took me to heaven.

 

#FWF Free Write Friday: Word Bank

You may use any of the following words as inspiration for your piece, or you may use all of them if it does not hinder your ability to write in free flow.

train – burlap – fiction – pearls – vertigo

Sie beissen an

Circular wandering

Paul Klee drew and painted on burlap,

Weird train of thoughts…

You, wearing  you necklace of pearls at the exclusion

Of anything else…

Fiction I’d love to expand on,

But daring leads to… Vertigo… Mr Vertigo?

Paul Auster: Invisible

Paul Klee: Make Visible ~

Must visit the Bauhaus!