Musician Nick Cave talks to journalist Seán O’Hagan about his son’s death and the pull of love.
When the crowds leave, we’re left
With the excess—
oily fish, baskets of bread—
Too much to cart across the desert.
We never asked for this.
Our lives crowded enough
To make room for the unexpected.
I have always wanted to see the look on Qoheleth’s face. An innovative thespian on a spiritual quest recently gave me that chance.
A colleague from the theater department at my university had told me that someone was doing a monologue of Ecclesiastes at a local fringe festival. I was excited in a way that betrays my particular nerdiness about this topic. I bought a ticket to Meaningless and sat up front, eagerly waiting to finally meet the sage, whom I had been studying for so many years, in person.
I could not, for the life of me, understand
why Genesis moved so soon to murder—
to fratricide. But then I had kids,
and now I know it to be at least as true
as what happened in the garden.
How quickly we skip
from It’s pretty to I want it to It’s mine.
How quickly we turn from
I’m unhappy to I hate you
to I wish you were dead.
What is this need to clear
the hill, to sever saplings,
one by one dragged to the
withered bracken by the load;
not birches though, but oaks
with leaves that cling well past
December, hiding all that might
be seen in the woods that lie
beyond. The hill is steep,
the footing rough, and lurking
in the underbrush, invasives
creep with stealth intention,
barberry and bittersweet
conspire to conquer, pierce,
and strangle. The work is hard,
the roots dig deep, but as I age,
A collection of essays invites artists and
theologians into conversation.
At a pottery inland from the tourist beach, a crowd arrives for the annual unloading
of the wood-burning kilns.
There’s a fiddle and guitar, the spice of chili cooking outdoors. Stacks of split wood,
cinders in the fireboxes. Sand and ash underfoot.
Light falls a little way into the cold kilns and we see the ware packed tight as seed heads,
a closet of surprises. We want it all laid before us like gifts for a king.
Men die once but he will be mourned each time
we hear his voice, like a promise out
of the Bible comforting us. He was shot
at Vespertime, when prayers are said
at monasteries and cathedrals. A high velocity
bullet smashed his jaw (the pulpit for his words).
Throats filled with the blues mourned that night
all through Memphis, and the Mississippi wailed.
The words of “Sweet Lorraine” were banished from the city.
And photos of the motel’s second floor were superimposed
The work of a prayer shawl
is to love the weight it holds,
the blue yarns heavy with the ache
of shoulders, of cold like winter rain,
the gray yarns grave as tears. A voice struggles
to rise from the wool, but the cry fails and falls
and the hurt breast is unconsoled.
Based on historical events, Olga Tokarczuk’s massive novel is simultaneously heartbreaking and comic.