“I have slept with you all night long while the dark earth spins with the living and the dead, and on waking suddenly in the midst of the shadow my arm encircled your waist. Neither night nor sleep could separate us.”
To love life, to love it even
when you have no stomach for it
and everything you’ve held dear
crumbles like burnt paper in your hands,
your throat filled with the silt of it.
When grief sits with you, its tropical heat
thickening the air, heavy as water
more fit for gills than lungs;
when grief weights you like your own flesh
only more of it, an obesity of grief,
you think, How can a body withstand this?
Then you hold life like a face
between your palms, a plain face,
no charming smile, no violet eyes,
and you say, yes, I will take you
I will love you, again.
Vera, was the wife of one of my favorite writers to ever exist; Vladimir Nabokov. She was also his editor, assistant and secretary, as well as a source of inspiration of many of his literary works. With Vera by his side supporting his work, Nabokov published 18 novels between 1926 and 1974 (both in Russian and English).
In July of 1923, a little more than two months after they met, Vladimir writes to Véra:
I won’t hide it: I’m so unused to being — well, understood, perhaps, — so unused to it, that in the very first minutes of our meeting I thought: this is a joke… But then… And there are things that are hard to talk about — you’ll rub off their marvelous pollen at the touch of a word… You are lovely…
Yes, I need you, my fairy-tale. Because you are the only person I can talk with about the shade of a cloud, about the song of a thought — and about how, when I went out to work today and looked a tall sunflower in the face, it smiled at me with all of its seeds.
See you soon my strange joy, my tender night.
In November, he wrote:
How can I explain to you, my happiness, my golden wonderful happiness, how much I am all yours — with all my memories, poems, outbursts, inner whirlwinds? Or explain that I cannot write a word without hearing how you will pronounce it — and can’t recall a single trifle I’ve lived through without regret — so sharp! — that we haven’t lived through it together — whether it’s the most, the most personal, intransmissible — or only some sunset or other at the bend of a road — you see what I mean, my happiness?
And I know: I can’t tell you anything in words — and when I do on the phone then it comes out completely wrong. Because with you one needs to talk wonderfully, the way we talk with people long gone… in terms of purity and lightness and spiritual precision… You can be bruised by an ugly diminutive — because you are so absolutely resonant — like seawater, my lovely.
I swear — and the inkblot has nothing to do with it — I swear by all that’s dear to me, all I believe in — I swear that I have never loved before as I love you, — with such tenderness — to the point of tears — and with such a sense of radiance.
Most of all I want you to be happy, and it seems to me that I could give you that happiness — a sunny, simple happiness — and not an altogether common one…
I am ready to give you all of my blood, if I had to — it’s hard to explain — sounds flat — but that’s how it is. here, I’ll tell you — with my love I could have filled ten centuries of fire, songs, and valor — ten whole centuries, enormous and winged, — full of knights riding up blazing hills — and legends about giants — and fierce Troys — and orange sails — and pirates — and poets. And this is not literature since if you reread carefully you will see that the knights have turned out to be fat.
I simply want to tell you that somehow I can’t imagine life without you…
I love you, I want you, I need you unbearably… Your eyes — which shine so wonder-struck when, with your head thrown back, you tell something funny — your eyes, your voice, lips, your shoulders — so light, sunny…
You came into my life — not as one comes to visit … but as one comes to a kingdom where all the rivers have been waiting for your reflection, all the roads, for your steps.
In a letter from December 30 to Vera, he writes:
I love you very much. Love you in a bad way (don’t be angry, my happiness). Love you in a good way. Love your teeth…
I love you, my sun, my life, I love your eyes — closed — all the little tails of your thoughts, your stretchy vowels, your whole soul from head to heels.
© 2015 ALIA SULTAN
I may be at a loss for words half the time, and the other half I might have too much to say, but I can almost always say this; I love you. I have felt fear and I have felt bravery and I have felt loss. I can look pictures of us and I can recall everything we did that day. I can listen to videos of you and I can tell what you felt. And I know that you didn’t think I was paying attention, but I knew how you looked when you thought something was unfair. And I knew the look in your eyes when you saw the light just right in a sunset and you knew that nothing could ever be recreated quite like that. I felt the same way about you.
Wherever you are, know that loving someone isn’t a matter of feeling something or not feeling something. It’s a matter of knowing what you’re feeling and when you need to let go.
I think that people know that letting go involves unfurling your fingers and watching something fall from a great height. It’s the act of following that objects downward motion that gets to us. That once it meets the ground or whatever surface it is deemed to hit, it’s gone. What was there is gone. And once you think about that you think of what could have been there. That one last touch, that one last feeling of bliss that comes with knowing that the moment you wake up the sun will be shining in rivulets through fingers that tangle in hair fresh off the pillow. It’s sad to know that nothing like that will happen again.
The sun won’t shine the same way. Instead it may simply fall. It won’t cascade, it won’t flow over the edges of noses or smiling lips. It’s the same way water may lose a stone from a riverbed and from there on after it doesn’t run quite the same way. But another stone, another pebble will fall in place because replacement happens.
I guess what I’m trying to say, is that letting go is letting someone else take a spot. In order for something else to happen you have to let your joints move out of their grip and unfold from their hold on something that wasn’t meant to be held by you anymore.
Sometimes you have to let them land somewhere new.
I only hope that it’s somewhere even more beautiful than before.
By: Claire Elizabeth
In your light I learn how to love
In your beauty, how to make poems
You dance inside my chest where no one sees you
but sometimes I do
and that sight becomes this art
“If the foot of the trees were not tied to earth, they would be pursuing me
For I have blossomed so much, I am the envy of the gardens.”