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Lithuanian Dance Band

Nathan the Wise is a good title it’s a reintroduction
Of heavy seeds attached by toggle switch to long loops leading
Out of literature and life into worldly chaos in which
We struggle two souls out of work for it’s a long way back to
The summation meanwhile we live in it gradually getting used to
Everything and this overrides living and is superimposed on it
As when a wounded jackal is tied to the waterhole the lion does come

I write you to air these few thoughts feelings you are
Most likely driving around the city in your little car
Breathing in the exquisite air of the city and the exhaust fumes dust and other
Which make it up only hold on awhile there will be time
For other decisions but now I want to concentrate on this
Image of you secure and projected how I imagine you
Because you are this way where are you you are in my thoughts

Something in me was damaged I don’t know how or by what
Today is suddenly broad and a whole era of uncertainties is ending
Like World War I or the twenties it keeps ending this is the beginning
Of music afterward and refreshments all kinds of simple delicacies
That toast the heart and create a rival ambiance of cordiality
To the formal one we are keeping up in our hearts the same

What with skyscrapers and dirigibles and balloons the sky seems pretty crowded
And a nice place to live at least I think so do you
And the songs strike up there are chorales everywhere so pretty it’s lovely
And everywhere the truth rushes in to fill the gaps left by
Its sudden demise so that a fairly accurate record of its activity is possible
If there were sex in friendship this would be the place to have it right here on this floor
With bells ringing and the loud music pealing

Perhaps another day one will want to review all this
For today it looks compressed like lines packed together
In one of those pictures you reflect with a polished tube
To get the full effect and this is possible
I feel it in the lean reaches of the weather and the wind
That sweeps articulately down these drab streets
Bringing everything to a high gloss

Yet we are alone too and that’s sad isn’t it
Yet you are meant to be alone at least part of the time
You must be in order to work and yet it always seems so unnatural
As though seeing people were intrinsic to life which it just might be
And then somehow the loneliness is more real and more human
You know not just the scarecrow but the whole landscape
And the crows peacefully pecking where the harrow has passed

John Ashbery

***

A lovely breeze was caressing my face as I sat on a bench at the entrance of Oval Maidan. It was that hour when the sky keeps changing its colour like a chameleon which doesn’t know what it’s stuck to until night is pinned on it with assurance by the stars. On the pathway that leads from one entrance of the park to the other, a woman was seated with both her legs tucked under her, making two inverted Vs. Next to her were her chappals and a thick plastic bag. Mutely, she performed gestures, accompanied with expressions: these were brief, ranged widely in emotion and were conveyed with utmost clarity. With her palm flat and horizontal, she cut the air in three places, at increasing heights, like steps; her round, expressive eyes lit up her face. Then there were tenser gestures—palm of one hand gripping and pulling the wrist of the other—which were accompanied by tense expressions like tightening of the face, clenching of teeth inside closed mouth and puffing of breast. She performed these movements and expressions in a varying sequence—with a set of three or four gestures and expressions in different combinations—which seemed to form, on the whole, something similar to an exercise routine. But from the fluidity of her actions it was clear that they were spontaneous. The care she took in performing this mime signaled awareness on her part of her performance, which none of the passersby, striding towards the station, paid much attention to, beyond a glance and quick judgment. Was there a story here? Even if there wasn’t, something had to be told in the best possible way (why else would her movements be so clear?). But for whom was this telling meant? I thought she would be found at the same spot again, tomorrow or day after, or at some other place in the city, performing those same gestures and expressions once more, before moving on to yet another spot. But the composure with which she got up, put on her chappals, picked up her plastic bag and walked out of the park—all vestige of pliability gone from her face—it was hard to believe that that was not her only performance.

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