The Gentlemen Lately


Скорее выздоровливайте! O city of kempt and unkempt faces.


How are these rivers not mirrors enough?

lady of the swamp, twice built,

and when will your festering scars heal?


Where has your aged grace gone?

crystal-crested queen of the frozen moment,

and what has this melting to do with you?


Why won’t your children stop building?

babushka of borrowed, bought, and bottled water,

Зачем внуки твои еще рисуют?

Two months and three days

passed away as easily as I’ll forget

this gray day’s final attempt at rain,

the ephemeral stain of this fleeting christening

baptizing me slightly darker than before

But I’ll not forget this cold shore,

the ceaseless downpour of moments puddling into hours

collected in the streams of repetitive days

washed away to the cold sea bordering this city

leaving me a little cleaner than before

Soon I’ll stand motionless in one moment,

these movements, frozen by winter’s arrival

The bright white illusion of time’s relief,

of my belief in the beautiful singularity slowly drifting towards me

making me a little colder than before

O Generation of the thoroughly smug

and thoroughly uncomfortable,

I have seen fishermen picnicking in the sun,

I have seen them with untidy families,

I have seen their smiles full of teeth

and heard ungainly laughter.

And I am happier than you are,

And they were happier than I am;

And the fish swim in the lake

and do not even own clothing.

9:00 am Once Alice told me how the sculptor and painter Alberto Giacometti said that sometimes just to paint a head you have to give up the whole figure.

9:10 am I told her instead that to paint a leaf, you have to sacrifice the whole landscape and it might seem like you are limiting yourself at first, but after a while I realized that in having a quarter-of-an-inch of something I have a better chance of holding on to a certain feeling of the universe, than if I pretended to be doing the whole sky.

9:25 am She laughed and told me of a mother she didn’t know, but knew of, who believed that too.

9:33 am Only this mother did not choose a leaf or a head. She chose her lover, and to hold on to a certain feeling, she sacrificed the world.

9:45 am Then I remembered that my mother did not sacrifice her world but had saved it and watched her lover leave it.

9:46 am Now I am not sure who is right but I’ve come closer to understanding the sadness of [looking] like or unlike one’s parent.

~The Herstory of Love, as told by Nicole Krauss as told by Alice as told by me