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The traveller's will 


Translated from the original French by Catherine Wieder

Here I am, a hunched man with his bags and suit-cases travelling to and from in his own life, with departures and returns, carrying blows on his heart and bruises all over his head, with leather satchels filled with sentences and briefcases filled with letters, always dreaming of smuggling in a woman's handbag among lipsticks, mirrors, photographs of children and perfume flasks.

Such a man, spiked with aerials, tries to pick up his love on the wave-lengths and draws towards it threads wherefrom he finally slips up. Such a man never knows next to whom he might sleep on this very night, nor where his path might lead his life onto on the morrow.

Tick tock of both ink and desire. Life wavers its pendulum between the books' side and love's side, among boarding tickets and long waits in one's room, backwards, and open armed. Such is the motionless man : a pedestrian, he who no longer believes in heaven and he who still has some hope, he who delineates shapes of faces and he who wants a true face.

There was a time when I grew off my roots, remaining here, knowing far-away countries but through day-dream and vague words. But once, I left the boxwood path and the small garden. I no longer quenched my thirst with water through my roots but through the sky.

I smoked the traveller's cigarette. My eyes are smarting and my heart beats more quickly. It left over my returns and my wakings a raucous taste of cold tobacco. I coughed, I lost my voice, I have two huge pouches under my eyes.I am a hazy traveller who can no longer see well enough and still believes it necessary to flee even further away. I fled. I cleared off. Above all, I got used to be forever nowhere, as if in aqualung in my own life. Such is the portrait of a poet at the end of the century, as an airport creature with this strange look of a man among the crowds : with his white jello brain, his half-dozing eye turned inwards but with fever on the tip of his fingers.

I went across the world, searching for my fellow men : unknown people, passengers, transit and loose men, those met in airports and on the station platforms, those you know nothing about, and those whom you'll never get to know. Those who, however, you may guess, because of their tickets, of their exhaustion, of their luggage, those from nowhere and from « there », those who go for the sun, pushing their lives in front of them and losing their memories.
Sipping black coffees and smoking Virginia cigarettes, here there are, waiting. Heaven begins on earth among trolleys, trucks and curls of blue smoke, in the torpor and boredom of air-conditioning. Preliminary suffocation : the heart looks for its rhythm. Where are our lovers ? Who are they ? Where are the green paradise and snows of days gone by ? Love, over here, changes according to the colour of skins  and time zones. New hair and new breasts. New stripe bare bosoms,  now red dresses become shorter. Once again, bodies are moist. A desire to quench one's thirst. We know nothing. We no longer know anything. Everything, since the beginning of times is still to be learnt.

I dreamt life from a woman's body. « Woman » is a word well put together, the name for everything liable to be either soldered, glued and jointed, hence giving life and coming into the world. The word referring to all memories. The word for she who, on the spur of the instant, may become pregnant. The word for she who suffers whenever there's a separation. A curved word, curving time. The word for the very earth that carries us, for water where we enjoy swimming, and for the air we breath. « Woman », the creature who always begets child out of everything.

I claimed caresses and brains from you all. A life of eye-lids, eye-lashes and hair, of mouths able to warble intensity and kisses, half-opened , smiling, laughing, red or pink, according to Ö I loved you, and your bare legs, I quenched my thirst. I too often used love words with you. Such words come too easily under one's pen. As a full stop at the end of a sentence. Through it, one would like to be able to conclude everything, or to begin everything. The inclination of one's tongue leads you there. Like a beach against which the sea dashes. Such a word opens on to nowhere. Alas, it lays bare the heart at the disposal of those far-away. It doesn't talk about much else than exile, but its attraction force is proportionate to the very void it encaptures. Just one word for things that are so different. A word with so many aerials, emitting waves and endlessly catching some back, all of them come from everywhere. A word similar to a never-ending kiss, a hand caught, the shadow of an eye-lash, my black suitcase filled with desires and tears.

Where can I grow my roots ? In what love, in what earth, in what language, in what loved body of a loved woman ? Towards which sky, which spirit, which God, which knowledge can I bloom ? And what hymns should I welcome ? what nests ? what soaring flights ? what wind through my foliage ? what insects ? what fruits ? what suns or winds ? which new growths ? what fall ? what colours ? which seasons ? which couples of lovers entwined within my shadow ? and what light knife-blows from their hearts to mine ?

I so oft dreamt of finding a tree that would be mine, rooted within a corner of grass, I so oft dreamt of the peaceful shade of a slow-moving foliage : there, resting, just for a while, my back stuck to the trunk. I so oft dreamt of a tree for lack of a house of my own. A single tree against which one can stand alone, with one's back on the bark, facing the wide-open horizon, and the road, on towards the path and on towards time. One's vertebras welded on to the stiff obscurity of that trunk whereform life grows relentlessly. Above : light, both fidgety and resounding, and its green and living sky.

My only roots are made of paper : books, gathered and piled up pages, letters I cannot resign to throw away, collected stamps put into boxes. From my tree there surges some kind of foliage, i.e. leaves for the songs uttered by others : they land, they fly again, they have pleasant plumage and nest very high.

Is there a place on earth where I would at last be able to unpack ? A place where my memory would at last let its roots grow ? Where the past would take its time ? I am hungry and thirsty, you know, I miss so many things, I would like to find the truth about my beginnings. Is there indeed such a place welcoming the lived time that was once mine ? A place still free and not affected by other people's memories ? Not an empty place but a plain one ? An understanding one, whose seasons would still have to be invented ? A native land from the end of one's life : where one would like to, and know how to, die. Home, at last, just for some while.

The tree walked for quite a long time. It went on sea, took the paths of the earth and of the sky, with its hulls, its rugged tracks, its propellers, its sails and its big engines. It saw its back-rods leak, its valves smother and its leaves fall. Such is his territory : crackling remains at his feet, plane tickets, balance sheets, receipts and jumbled red from beneath the blue.

When autumn comes again, I classify, I file my papers, I do my accounts, I burn a few things. Sometimes, I realize that I may send a few letters but love words are scarce. The speedometer went too fast. My good fortune may have changed. The blue sky put the phone down on me.

Enough with running, enough with endless search, enough with taking the absurd ephemereal for the true intense. Such a life doomed to disappear was only meant to be shortened at all times. Compelled to shorten, always to shorten thus, to those very sentences themselves meant to resist extinction. Scuppering the very task of writing. Never opposing death but aborted beauties or sharp yearning pains of rotten teeth, i.e. unaccomplished endeavours. Never setting against it but what has already been mined and sure disappearance soon to take place. Hence, I poeticized my inadequacies. I carefully worked out a melancholy of my own waste. I was a semblance of a poet, a semblance of an intellectual, a semblance of a husband, a semblance of a father, a semblance of a lover. I may even have been a semblance of a man. The cast shadow of disappearance. Nothing more. Neither messed up or accursed, rather a missed man not having been born when he should have to.

Bury me with my telephone, my fax and my computer. In a large blue plastic bag : I wrote too much about this colour. Let it be a garbage bag, both solid and vast. Tied with a red plastic ribbon in place of a Legion of Honour. A bag for despair, for stench and corpses. Leave the phone plugged in so that one may be able to get in touch twenty four hours a day, but forgive me for not answering.