First love

Yves Berger is a painter and writer.

We know we are flying

The workers have left the café. I've killed the fly that buzzed me. Since I have no more to say, I go on rereading what I've written.

You come here every day. Come to drink and bet. You talk to one another or you talk to yourself. You scarcely look out of the windows. You look in your wallet to see how to get through the day. You glance at the newspaper. You carry on as usual, waiting. You feel closed in. You flush the toilet. You try to keep up appearances. You doubt yourself. When you leave places you tell yourself: it's for the best. You leave, and behind you at the bar your story goes on. The sun outside dazzles you. You put your hands in your pockets out of the draught of the street-cleaners' machine, blowing away the dead leaves. You cross the square, sprightly. You will come back tomorrow. You take the next corner.

They spoke of the sadness of becoming orphans. One is always a child when one loses one's parents. They said what they felt: there's no one ahead because father and mother had always gone ahead opening the road, on which they now found themselves alone; there's no one behind because father and mother were always behind with their hands on their children's shoulders. Henceforth orphaned, alone with what's behind, alone with what lies ahead, everything will go on without any return to the past. They were thinking about the time of their lives. The departure of their parents so present for them and for others soon to fade away and
be overshadowed by other deaths. They spoke of their fears about what time will efface and will then only remain in them.

They cry out. They cry out with all their colours. At springtime in the trees. In house, garden, fields. They cry out on graves in cemeteries. They cry out everywhere all the time against everything and against time. They cry out for the fruit they will become. They cry out for their petals fallen on the earth beneath the rain. Decay and fecundation. They cry out for their roots delving into the dead weight. They cry out for their stems taut in the light. They cry out between earth and heaven, like stitches closing a wound. They cry out beside men like their young sisters. All their colours cry out.

We are beside ourselves. An elation of some boiling sap gives us the wings of butterflies. We believe we are flying. We do fly, and at the same moment the earth tugs us towards our own decomposition and takes us slowly into her night. Rid of ourselves we become liquid. Humus absorbs us. We become flowers, a few salvoes, a few further waves, a few more times on the face of the earth, before disappearing into the depths of this sweet mess. Restored to silent earth.

Translated by John Berger.

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