Four Cutouts

Claude Ber

Cutout 1

Little, minuscule indecision of existing. Afraid of the spectacle of its own destruction. In the silent ark of vanished loved ones, an absent stone. And a magnolia. The back of muteness. In its murmur or its loquacity. Simultaneously cheek by foul. In the overstep of the mouth. Like a tilt from the edge. The arc of an inadmissible space. A trapdoor in the forehead. Where the village idiot’s stories and the sparrows come from. The socratic gadfly of Athens. Vigilance. A jumbled buffoonery at the turn of the millennium. Like snails spilled through the wires of a rusty salad spinner, the juice of language.

Cutout 2

The scent of perfume and sweat. Whispered words. The thick fur of time. Then the skinning. The escalator caterpillars deep below the station concourse. Its ceremonious slowness carries the cavalcade of hurried travellers with all the bombast of a procession. A slowing freezes them softened and blurred on the metallic sheets of wall. Distant fresco interrupting itself in pauses. In glittering empty lengths of steel. Becoming obvious in disappearance. The absence of drama and pain. A cinematographic slide across the still screen of time. Sandwiched between the agitated stampeding above and below. In contemplative retreat. Zero gravity. Fascination of angels and aircrafts. Luxury of purposeless ascension. Neither sky nor fall. The metaphysical innocence of the elevator.

Cutout 3

A fine rain is misting on the palms and stone pines. Their branches quiver as if from the weight of birds. The trickle of droplets along the trunks. With a waterfalllike scattering, a sight as much as a sound. Beak against bark. Or the snapping of mandibles wired to a soundsystem’s amps. Micro macro criss-crossed. Even combined. The cosmos captured in the tin can I pull open by the loop on the cover. And that same loop worn as a ring on the finger. Ring tossed ark keeled. The rainbow of a new covenant. In the eager pitter-patter of the rain. Its haste to finish to come back into the earth. For the laterite of the soul and the withering of the heart what rain? I drink the last of the future from the bottle. A swig of sparkling water that tastes like plastic. And I contemplate the faraway from the viewpoint of a motorway rest stop. Stripped from this angle. A grey slab of rainy sky, a grey slab of asphalt. And between, the minuscule frieze of bonsai trees welding zinc and zinc together.

Cutout 5

With the sweater I fold an absent body. A body dressed in absence. Virtually possible. In the intimacy of his scent between the stitches. Presence knitted by my hands that mechanically tear off the strands of lint at the wear of elbows and wrists. I sample disappearance with my fingertips.

translated from the French by Elodie Olson-Coons