Steamy heat after rain, the car battery of the housemate’s bashed-up vehicle gone flat overnight, silky fruit wasps crawling around kitchen surfaces. I wander back and forth with a copy of Lydia Davis’ translation of Proust’s Combray in one hand, lost in that labyrinthine masterpiece. My blind eye swollen with recurring glaucoma that may ease by evening. The dogs follow me around, not bothered in the least by my temporary abstractedness. For lunch I shall make something to eat with two stray mushrooms, a cupful of lentils and a bunch of fresh coriander.
2013 is apparently The Year of Reading Proust.
vocabularies that might express some of what
we no longer can.”
Conflict. The garden services manager explains to me in Afrikaans that he wants to spray insecticides on the weedier corners of the garden.
‘No,’ I say, and won’t discuss this. Dead birds, poisoned chameleons, contaminated water trickling down to the roots of my trees, a silent spring.
The housemate wants to donate her body to medical research. No coffin, no cremation, just a memorial service.
‘Fine,’ I say, and won’t talk about the housemate dying one day, it must never happen while I am still alive, unbearable thought.
Never mind, there is Proust along with earthy lentils for lunch. And the cherry-pie violet scent of heliotrope drifting in through the window.
“But when from a long-distant past nothing subsists, after the people are dead, after the things are broken and scattered, taste and smell alone, more fragile but more enduring, more unsubstantial, more persistent, more faithful, remain poised a long time, like souls, remembering, waiting, hoping, amid the ruins of all the rest; and bear unflinchingly, in the tiny and almost impalpable drop of their essence, the vast structure of recollection.”