(Droplet) vesaas.

Jonathan Levitt, Echo Mask

The house slopes down from the holt, pieces of wenge sorted among lithe vertical panes, casting licks of sun upon the floors. The back-porch hung above the echo of a stream; it no longer ran even a hair of water. Standing purposefully near a dammed lake, during early mornings, one couldn’t detect the house from the trees due to a thick, sulphurous mist, and at the lips of a summery evening, one could enjoy the tunes of laughter from swimmers, or the sound of timber and scent of resin, a feeling of tempered rapture gracing the thoughts with smooth sand. As the chrysalis of moths Felix and I often found and kept in a shoe-box, that entire world seemed quiescent, and even my memory of it resists the curse of movement. Ingrid, the wife of the German architect whose hands birthed that beacon of modernity deeply enclaved in a Portuguese forested desert, spent her days reading Vesaas; with her short, brown hair and irises of a deep blue steel, she was unlike any woman I had seen. She held Vårnatt or Liv ved Straumen with such a grip of absorption, such a pure and centred consciousness, that as we looked for her hammock along the wide porch, she was entirely invisible against the quiescence; if we were to paint the vista, she’d be indiscernible from the yellowed foliage, and whenever she rose, the neutrality of her being was so that one couldn’t detect any happiness or sadness, just a form, a morphology, a rustling of leaves.

I spent an entire summer with Felix, the wheat-topped son of the couple, but I never met the father. As we made our way along the house, however, we could piece him together from the lines of his creations: the monumental skylights — as uncluttered as skylights could be — were two metres wide each and went uninterrupted until their sum was four, and not a speck of dust could be detected against the light blue; the only visual assonance was the armour of the skylights, eight thin white lines veining the heavens, and one final beam to tether them at the center. Felix and I gathered that he ought to be charismatic and surprisingly forthcoming, or maybe, he was frightened of being stuck, or senseless, or lost. All the rooms of their home were echoes of the last, all made of different tones of wood that demanded adjustment from the eyes; in certain instances, it was nearly impossible to tell what was wall, floor or ceiling, as the three were lined with small wooden panels whose shade could only indicate that, perhaps, the floor was a month older than the wall, or the ceiling was from trees of an adjacent plot to those of the counters. A thick layer of lacquer atop the panels robbed them of any residual contrast, and as the house sloped from the holt, once within, it felt like it was hovering above it, descending into the breath of nature itself. Felix and I figured he must have been melancholic, but not outwardly so, a very thin patina of melancholy that, perhaps, in any normal day of his life, he’d never guess he even had. There was no garden and, as is customary to European summer homes, no physical or imagined separation between what was property and what wasn’t. The house melded into the airy forest almost organically, but still, never failed to draw light into itself or to feel somewhat foreign. As we rose an effigy of symbols in order to give bevel to his father, the sentiment of notness never left the tips of our cogitations. We knew he wasn’t extravagant, or terribly daring, or colourful, or had any bombast; he was another figure of quiescence, and, perhaps with even bigger force, his absence was the most bombastic element of his being. His signature wasn’t just his subtlety, but his inexistance. After we became privy of that, we quickly fatigued of piecing together a presence, or labouring over the fables behind his miniature planes, which were all collected inside the only room completely walled in glass, the only one that felt earthly, human, present. We decided, instead, to pick apart a putrid log fallen onto the echo of the stream and play with the beetle grubs.

I never saw Felix after that summer, twelve years ago. The house was vacant three years after we were there, and after five with a caretaker, it was abandoned and scheduled to be demolished today. Now, I gaze at the same sky of limpid blue and fill it with the fiction of lithe white veins and a strong central tether, and from me spring the sounds of swimmers laughing, and slowly, another summer loses its place in reality, becomes historical, and I walk into my own subtle inexistence, my own inch tucked downwards from the holt, swallowed by the earth, echoed in my dreams.

Jonathan Levitt, Echo Mask

Published by João-Maria

A tick clinging to the bristles of a purple boar.

20 thoughts on “(Droplet) vesaas.

    1. “The blood in the hands that laugh;”
      Life is, indeed, a frugal thing, and such a difficult plate to balance. I’m still very young, thus, I can’t complain as much as many others. I’ve seen so much beauty, though, that every second seems to densify the distance, and asseverate the longing.
      I’m very happy you like my prose, Anna. Truly.

      Liked by 1 person

  1. It is not for one who hand paints in kindergarten to render a critique of a da Vinci or a Monet , but wow, what an exquisite elegy for the terrible brevity of life and the impermanence of all created things!

    Liked by 2 people

    1. I actually didn’t have that in mind while I wrote it. I’m not quite sure of what I had in mind, actually. I’m not quite sure of what I even wrote.
      It’s Summer in Portugal now, and I feel very fluid. I sort of just… write, whatever comes, comes.
      It’s always incredibly warming to have you read me, Craig. Truly.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. This was such an enjoyable read imbued with intense imagery and really poignant mood. I found myself feeling that pierce of nostalgia as I learned about the demolition of the physicality of a memory. You painted it really ascetically. Looking forward to more of this!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Oh, Fatimah!, it is with illimitable joy that I receive this comment. I was truly encapsulated by your blog once I found it, especially your prose; your thoughts cuneate timidly and you sit in an interior colloquy that is absolutely enviable. It never feels protracted (like mine oft does) or tastes of little.
      I look forward to reading you as well, and I’m beyond thankful you decided to stop by.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Thank you so much. I’m really taken aback by your kind words, my little blog is just a humble place for some of my thoughts. So glad you found something of interest in it for you.

        Liked by 1 person

  3. Your powers of articulation in description knock me over, Joao-Maria. The ghost parents with their ghost house that faded away. My question is what would have poor Felix done without you that summer? I wonder where he is now…

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Jade, I was a bit hopeful you’d get around to reading this one. Sometimes, when I finish a piece, I think: Ms. Jade would like this.
      I think my descriptions could be better if I allowed myself some flow; I get a bit too technical with transitions and pace, and sometimes, that robs the beauty of my observance.
      I’m happy you like it, though, because I will surely do better, and you’ll love it even more.

      I never heard from him again, after he moved back to Germany. His father died shortly after, and since both our fathers were our only veritable connection, the lines just began dangling in some intangible space. I hope he’s well, and I hope he has fond memories of our days of unbridled exploration.

      Liked by 1 person

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