Last night I attended a poetry reading where the poetry was largely about death and grieving. I thought about that period of my life when I lost people who I dearly loved it seemed one after the next. And thought of a book I read last fall, Aliss at the Fire by Jon Fosse and translated by Damion Searls and started reading about Signe and Asle again. Asle leaves one day as is typical of him, to take his rowboat out on the fjord, but he never comes back. Signe stays trapped in her imagining of him returning and leaving. I’ve had that feeling of stuckness and watched other people in my life be handicapped by it. By keeping a moment, playing it over and over or telling myself the same story over and over whether it be terrible or sensational it is myself that I am keeping frozen in time. Whether to avoid something horrific or to hold onto something wonderful I’m taking myself out of the flow. In all it’s sadness this book is beautiful, poetic, and repetitive in a way that made me stop and wonder how long had I been lying on my proverbial bench? Here is Signe living in her house by the fjord,
yes she just lies here on the bench or just stands there in front of the window and looks out the window the way she always stood and looked out, she thinks, yes, she stands there now the way she always did, or she lies here on the bench, she thinks and she sees herself walk in the door from the kitchen and she sees herself go over to the window and stand there in front of the window and she thinks, lying here on the bench, that she can’t bear it, she doesn’t understand it, she thinks, and why is it always like that? why is it as though he was still alive and was about to walk down the little road, the way he did so many times before he disappeared and was gone forever, . . .