At my sister’s this weekend, for a good soaking moment in her bathtub at her new house, we did something we haven’t done for ages. While wrapped in salts, lavender, and oils, we talked about poetry. I, with my eyes closed and immersed into water; she, sitting on a stool, head buried in a book, reciting verses aloud. Occasionally I would offer a comment in the form of a quotation: “Only what touches us closely preoccupies us. We prepare in solitude to face it.” She asked, “love or death?” I answered: “death of course. Love is a gift, death a reality.” I kept quoting Jabès as his Little Book of Unsuspected Subversion came to my mind: “To live without asking: “Why?” means dodging in advance the question: “How to die?,” means accepting a death without origin.” We thought of our parents. Neither of them died a good death. She asked me: “how do you think of doing it?” I told her that I vacillate between gas and sky-diving without a parachute from a tall cliff. “What about you?,” I asked. She said: “When I’ll turn 90, I’ll buy a fast motorcycle and drive towards an abyss at 290 km an hour.” “Wow, how wonderful,” I replied, and then murmured to myself: “Merde, why didn’t I think of that one myself!” We started laughing. We are both visual. She almost got a stomach ache, as she was cracking up. “Oh, ho, ho,” she went: "I can see you with your head stuck in some oven and your thin legs sticking out of it like those of a fat goose, caught in a frozen, awkward moment.” “That is just so unromantic,” she then said. “Exactly,” I said. “That’s why I vacillate.” I also laughed at imagining my little sister, with her petite figure and white hair stepping on it, giving the motorcycle gas. “Broooom!” I was jealous of her optimism, especially since I told her that where I was concerned, I have no intention of sticking around so long. No point in it really. She said: “the optimists see a point, the pessimists see none, and the realists, now they see one, now they don’t.” I asked her: “what about morons?” “Morons don’t think of such things,” she said. Then she continued: “we talk as if we’re being suicidal.” I was quick in my reply even before she managed to pause: “I certainly hope that we are. Indeed, only morons don’t think of death, or dying.” She nodded. We took another sip of champagne and we both sank into silence.


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