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Two Paintings by Nikolai Astrup - text

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I know no one now
Now I say "you"
Now after the ground has opened up
Now after you died
I wonder what could beacon me forward into the rest of life

I can glimpse occasional moments
Gleaming like bonfires burning from across the fjord

In a painting from around 1915 called "Midsummer Eve Bonfire" by Nikolai Astrup
That shines on my computer screen in 2017 in the awful July night
The house is finally quiet and still with the child asleep upstairs
So I sit and notice the painting of bonfires on the hillside
And hanging smoke in the valleys
Wrapping back up through the fjords at dusk
Hovering like scars of mist draped along the ridges
Above couples dancing in the green twilight around fires
And in the water below, the reflections of other fires from other parties
Illuminate the depths and glitter shining and alone
Everyone is laughing and there is music
And a man climbs up the hill pulling a juniper bow to throw into the fire
To make some sparks rise up to join the stars
These people in the painting believed in magic and earth
And they all knew loss
And they all came to the fire

I saw myself in this one young woman in the foreground
With a look of desolation and a body that looked pregnant
As she leaned against the moss of a rock soft to the side
Apart from all the people celebrating midsummer

I knew her person was gone just like me
And just like me she looked across at the fires from far away
And wanted something in their light to say:
"Live your life, and if you don't
The ground is definitely ready at any moment to open up again
To swallow you back in
To digest you back into something useful for somebody"
And meanwhile above the Norwegians dancing in the twilight
The permanent white snow gleamed
You used to call me "Neige Éternelle."

The man who painted this girl's big black eyes, gazing
Drawing the fire into ourselves standing alone
Nikolai Astrup, he also died young at 47
Right after finishing building his studio at home
Where he probably intended to keep on painting his resonant life into old age
But sometimes people get killed before they get to finish
All the things they were going to do

That's why I'm not waiting around anymore
That's why I tell you that I love you
Does it even matter what we leave behind?

I'm flying on an airplane over the Grand Canyon
Imagining strangers going through the wreckage of this flight if it were to crash
And would anyone notice or care gathering up my stuff from the desert below?
Would they investigate the last song I was listening to?
Would they go through my phone and see the last picture I ever took
Was of our sleeping daughter early this morning
Getting ready to go, and I was struck by her face
Sweet in the blue light of our dim room?

Would they follow the thread back and find her there?
I snapped back out of this plane crash fantasy still alive
And I know that's not how it would go
I know the actual mess that death leaves behind
It just gets bulldozed in a panic by the living, pushed over the waterfall
Because that's me now, holding all your things
Resisting the inevitable flooding of the archives
The scraps distributed by wind
A life's work just left out in the rain
But I'm doing what I can to reassemble a poor substitute version of you
Made of the fragments and drawings that you left behind
I go though your diaries and notebooks at night
I'm still cradling you in me

There's another Nikolai Astrup painting from 1920
Called "Foxgloves" that hangs on the fridge
And I look at it every morning and every night before bed
Some trees have been cut down next to a stream
Flowing through a birch brow in late spring
And two girls that look like you gather berries and baskets
Hunched over like young animals, grazing
With their red dresses against the white birch three trunks interweaving
Beneath the clattering leaves
The three stumps in the foreground remind me that everything is fleeting
As if reminding is what I need

But then the foxgloves grow
And I read that the first flowers that return to disturbed ground
Like where logging took place
Or where someone like me rolled around wailing in a clearing
Now I don't wonder anymore
If it's significant that all these foxgloves spring up
On the place where I'm about to build our house
And go to live in, let you fade in the night air
Surviving with what dust is left of you here
Now you will recede into the paintings

Text přidal Sigur

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