Friday, May 13, 2016

Etel Adnan - To Be In A Time Of War

NB: Etel Adnan, writer, poet, artist and musician was born in 1925 and raised in Beirut, Lebanon. Her mother was a Greek from Smyrna, her father, a high ranking Ottoman officer born in Damascus. This prose poem is the final chapter of her book In the Heart of the Heart of Another CountryRead more about her here - DS


To say nothing, do nothing, mark time, to bend, to straighten up,
to blame oneself, to stand, to go toward the window,
to change one’s mind in the process, to return to one’s chair, to
stand again, to go to the bathroom, to close the door, to then open
the door, to go to the kitchen, to not eat nor drink, to return to
the table, to be bored, to take a few steps on the
rug, to come close to the chimney, to look at it, to find it dull,
to turn left until the main door, to come back to the
room, to hesitate, to go on, just a bit, a trifle, to stop, to
pull the right side of the curtain, then the other side, to stare
at the wall.

To look at the watch, the clock, the alarm clock, to listen to
the ticking, to think about it to look again, to go to the tap, to
open the refrigerator, to close it, to open the door, to feel the
cold, to close the door, to feel hungry, to wait, to wait for -
dinner time, to go to the kitchen, to reopen the fridge, to take
out the cheese, to open the drawer, to take out a knife, to carry
the cheese and enter the dining room, to rest the plate on the
table, to lay the table for one, to sit down, to cut the cheese in
four servings, to take a bite, to introduce the cheese in the ;
mouth, to chew and swallow, to forget to swallow, to day-dream,
to chew again, to go back to the kitchen, to wipe one’s mouth,
to wash one’s hands , to dry them, to put the cheese back into the
refrigerator, to close that door, to let go of the day.

To listen to the radio, to put it off, to walk a bit, to think,
to give up thinking, to look for the key, to wonder, to do nothing,
to regret the passing of time, to find a solution, to want to go to
the beach, to tell that the sun is coming down, to hurry, to go down
with the key, to open the car’s door, to sit, to pull in the door,
put in the key, turn it on, heat the engine, to listen, to make
sure nobody’s around, to pull back, to go ahead, to turn right, then
left, to drive straight on, to follow the road, to take many
curbs, to drive down the coast, look at the ocean, to admire it,
to feel happy, to go up the hill, to reach the other side, then
go straight, to stop, to make sure that the ocean has not disappeared,
to feel lucky, to stop the engine, to open the door, to exit, to
close the door, to look straight ahead, to appreciate the breeze,
to advance into the waves.

To wake up, to stretch, to get out of bed, to dress, to stagger
towards the window, to be ecstatic about the garden’s beauty, to observe
the quality of the light, to distinguish the roses from the hyacinths,
to wonder if it rained in the night, to establish contact with the
mountain, to notice its color, to see if the clouds are moving, to stop,
to go to the kitchen, to grind some coffee, to lit the gas, to heat
water, hear it boiling, to make the coffee, to put off the gas, to
pour the coffee, to decide to have some milk with it, to bring out the
bottle, to pour the milk in the aluminum pan, to heat it, to be careful,
to pour, to mix the coffee with the milk, to feel the heat, to bring the
cup to one’s mouth, to drink, to drink again, to face the day’s chores,
to stand and go to the kitchen, to come back and put the radio on,
to bring the volume up, to hear that the war against Iraq has started.

To get more and more impatient, to be hungry, to bite one’s
nails, to wear a jacket, to open the door, wa1k down the hill, to
look at the Bay, see boats, notice a big sailboat, to go on
walking, to be breathless, to turn left, then right, to enter the
Sushi-Ran, to wait, to look at the waitress, to call her, to rest
one’s elbows on the table, to pull them back when the tea arrives,
to order, to eat, to drink, to use chopsticks, to be through, to
wipe one’s mouth with the napkin, to read the bill, to count, to
pay, to thank graciously, to exit, to start the road uphill.

To rise early, to hurry down to the driveway, to look for the paper,
take it out from its yellow bag, to read on the front-page WAR,
to notice that WAR takes half a page, to feel a shiver down the spine,
to tell that that’s it, to know that they dared, that they jumped
the line, to read that Baghdad is being bombed, to envision a rain
of fire, to hear the noise, to be heart-broken, to stare at the
trees, to go up slowly while reading, to come back to the front-page,
read WAR again, to look at the word as if it were a spider, to
feel paralyzed, to look for help within oneself, to know helplessness,
to pick up the phone, to give up, to get dressed, to look through
the windows, to suffer from the day’s beauty, to hate to death the
authors of such crimes, to realize that it’s useless to think, to
pick up the purse, to go down the stairs, to see people smashed
to a pulp, to say yes indeed the day is beautiful, not to know anything,
to go on walking, to take notice of people’s indifference towards
each other.

To have lunch. To ask for some beer. To give one’s order. To drink,
eat, and pay. To leave. To reach home. To find the key. To enter.
To wait. To think about the war. To glance at the watch. To put on the
news. To listen to the poison distilled by the military correspondents.
To get a headache. To eat dry biscuits. To put the radio back on.To
hear bombs falling on Baghdad. To listen to ambulances. To go out on
the deck. To look at the lengthening shadows on the grass. To count a
few dead flies on the pane. To go to the table and look at the mail.
To feel discouraged. To drink some water. To not understand the wind.
To wonder if the human race is not in chaos…

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