things i remember about germany
…à changer mon pot de chambre en un vase de parfum.
Marcel Proust, Du côté de chez Swann
Spargelpisse, which took me back to Germany, white and green asparagus laid out in a Munich market, extravagantly-priced bundles of sticks. I turned them to watery risotto for our hosts: we slept in their bed, they slept on a couch in the corridor, when I did the washing-up I broke most of their possessions. My dear, the noise, and the people! And the smell… I stood by the sink, looking at the little fragments which took me back to a month or so in St. Petersburg, one of those months, totalled, dead in unlust, an older German woman, with another life manifest in her sudden absences, trips to the south. She brought back tiny delicate vodka-cups from Elista, and one morning we woke up to desolation. Tja. Breaking these unnecessary fragile things. Memory is a kind of heredity, which took me back to a photo she described to me once, her and her cousins in a cornfield, all of them tall with cornblond hair. Na ja she said, thoughtfully. Not good.
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