Be•ing

I’ve talked to God More than I’ve talked to people 

and found that 

he talks back to me

Through strangers telling me their stories

Through this constant presence inside of me that picks me up when I’m on my knees

And through my never ending seasons

Especially when I forget how flowers have the ability to blossom in spring 

How do you explain the effect of the mote of dust that I am, in size, that ripples outwards, ever so beautifully?

Nabokov’s Letters to Vera

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.

nabokov_vera_letter1923

Vladimir’s letter to Véra from November 8, 1923

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.

Vera and Vladimir Nabokov, 1968 (photographer: Philippe Halsman) via: http://www.brainpickings.org/2014/12/03/letters-to-vera-vladimir-nabokov/

Vera and Vladimir Nabokov, 1968 (photographer: Philippe Halsman) via: http://www.brainpickings.org/2014/12/03/letters-to-vera-vladimir-nabokov/

References:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Véra_Nabokov

http://www.theatlantic.com/entertainment/archive/2014/04/the-legend-of-vera-nabokov-why-writers-pine-for-a-do-it-all-spouse/359747/

http://www.brainpickings.org/2014/12/03/letters-to-vera-vladimir-nabokov/

© 2015 ALIA SULTAN

Those With a Clear Head Feel Lost

“Life is at the start a chaos in which one is lost. The individual suspects this, but he is frightened at finding himself face to face with this terrible reality, and tries to cover it over with a curtain of fantasy, where everything is clear. It does not worry him that his ‘ideas’ are not true, he uses them as trenches for the defence of his existence, as scarecrows to frighten away reality.

“The man with the clear head is the man who frees himself from those fantastic ‘ideas’ and looks life in the face, realizes that everything in it is problematic, and feels himself lost. As this is the simple truth — that to live is to feel oneself lost — he who accepts it has already begun to find himself, to be on firm ground. Instinctively, as do the shipwrecked, he will look round for something to which to cling, and that tragic, ruthless glance, absolutely sincere, because it is a question of his salvation, will cause him to bring order into the chaos of his life. These are the only genuine ideas; the ideas of the shipwrecked. All the rest is rhetoric, posturing, farce. He who does not really feel himself lost, is lost without remission; that is to say, he never finds himself, never comes up against his own reality.”

-Jose Ortega y Gasset

Rainstorms and I

In the wall-sized mirror

Soaked leather boots

And a sweater on

I gazed into my own eyes

 

My hair drenched;

Looked like the rain

Through the long journey

From the clouds to the surface

Had found home

 

My sweater off

I  saw my scars, so deep

Seemed like the lightning

Of long suppressed anger

Had chose to strike

On my skin

 

In the wall-sized mirror

I gazed into my own eyes

I stood straight while I said:

I am the person

I have always wanted to be

And there are diamonds

Sparkling amongst my curls

 

If you gaze long enough

You would see

My skin glittering around my scars

And after rainstorms

The rainbow flares in my eyes

© 2013 ALIA SULTAN