Tuesday, 17 September 2019

On the road we picked up the books

We left our homes and drove the road to where the land and sea are joined.
There, we picked up the books, in two heavy boxes.
They didn't have to deliver them, because we came ourselves to load them.

You carried the boxes, up the steep stairs. Up the steep stairs your carried each box, and after the second you caught your breath.

Today we will offer the books to people.
I will keep quiet. I'll watch you, taking and offering, and I'll see the faces change, and the hands open and close.

We will carry the books, with their stories, and drive the road that follows us.

- Silke Heiss, 17th September 2019

Friday, 6 September 2019

The business of a book

What with a chest of drawers stuffed with decades' worth of manuscript material, you decide finally to produce a book. A real book. With a publisher and an ISBN number and proper binding and marketing strategies for a wider readership. Because that's what you know in your heart must happen with this mere tip of an iceberg of words you've built up over a lifetime: the tip, at least, must be shared, somehow made accessible, somehow find the eyes, the heart or hearts that need them.

But you did not think, did you? You did not think that writing over a lifetime in no way qualifies you to enter the business world. You are not a businesswoman. You fear business. You fear technology. You have no experience.

But you've come this far. The book exists. You hold it. You love it.

To turn back now would be more difficult than to keep going. You can't see where you're going. Kind people, good people help you. The steps are infinitely slow. You tell yourself that this is not who you are, you are an ageing woman wanting grandchildren, wanting to sing them songs, you want quiet and to do the dishes and re-fill the bird-bath.

The people you love, who are close around you, are - many of them - stressed. Some are ill. Some are disabled or crippled, whether temporarily or permanently. All are in pain of one kind or another. All are making huge, constant efforts to do their best, to keep smiling.

There are other people around you, whom you are not close to, who are killing each other, hurting one another, speaking in ugly ways.

Some of the braver people you know post calls to, write open letters to the president, crying out their anguish about the painfully ugly words and deeds of the others.

While so many are hurting and distressed, you take down and fold washing, you make salad and ask your nephew, "Can you show me how to take a screen shot?"

Because you know you must stay calm. The way the crew on a ship like the Canada Maru must stay calm in the midst of a violent storm; the way it must sail on - whether or not there is a boy with white legs, falling out of the sky.

And you walk blindly - so you feel - through the darkness with your book, letting it be your lantern.

Monday, 2 September 2019

Roots and risks - Reflections on my book

It exists and feels beautiful. Soft and lovable, perfect to take to bed, to the beach, to curl up or stretch out with. A sensual, sensitive body, just longing for touch.

A book is a happy thing when it has such a body.

But a body is a costly thing, and a book's body no less so. I have risked much in order to give birth to this body, this heffalump, this, in all, 319-page story consisting in a total of 236 poems.

All my hard calculations show clearly that I am losing - materially speaking, that is. How much I am prepared, indeed, able to lose in this gamble? What am I gambling, actually?

Am I enjoying the process?
Yes. I am enjoying the process of taking the risks I am taking. I no longer fear or hope. I am simply, fully inside the process, this path I have chosen.

The path is more uphill than I expected, but that is the nature of paths. When I get to the 'top', what will I see or discover? I do not know. And that is why I am doing it. It's my duty to life, to God, to myself, to the time I have in this body I have borrowed from the elements.

What am I risking?
I am risking losing my fear of being read and judged: this has already happened and is deeply rewarding, and also interesting.
I am risking fulfilling a longing: this, too, has already happened and is lovely, liberating.
Yes, there is the risk of material loss, but such loss will not ruin me any more than I have been ruined in the past.

The advantage of a past like mine is that it has reduced me to a hard pip filled with arsenic: like an almond or an apple seed.

Am I fooling myself? What is the worst that could happen?

The worst would be if I lost touch with the divine spark, with God, with the simple things, with my beloved, with my love. And I daily take huge care that this does not happen, because those things are the foundation of my life. It is in those things that my book is rooted. Including its body.