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A writer is someone who spends years patiently trying to discover the second being inside him, and the world that makes him who he is. When I speak of writing, the image that comes first to my mind is not a novel, a poem, or a literary tradition; it is the person who shuts himself up in a room, sits down at a table, and, alone, turns inward. Amid his shadows, he builds a new world with words. This man-or this woman-may use a typewriter, or profit from the ease of a computer, or write with a pen on paper, as I do. As he writes, he may drink tea or coffee, or smoke cigarettes. From time to time, he may rise from his table to look out the window at the children playing in the street, or, if he is lucky, at trees and a view, or even at a black wall. He may write poems, or plays, or novels, as I do. But all these differences arise only after the crucial task is complete-after he has sat down at the table and patiently turned inward. To write is to transform that inward gaze into words, to study the worlds into which we pass when we retire into ourselves, and to do so with patience, obstinacy, and joy.
Kronus In My Coffee
As my bangle taps the table the sun catches the surface and the liquid dreams its own depths. The café recedes, the voices from the kitchen fall away, the Thai boy at the bar is sucked into the mirror behind him. I watch him go.
From the profundity of the cup my own reflection gazes out. The sunken eyes, the thin nose, the pert lips, the remains of a retro pageboy hairstyle. We regard each other, she and I. We are sisters, twins from the same egg, though it was her who carried me to birth.
I don’t know her now. I recognise only the outline, the surface, and suspect that is all there is. The substance, the kernel, that insubstantial thing she nursed, was my own genesis.
She is tired, vanquished, watching closely as I sip her away.
When the coffee is finished she remains for a moment, embedded in the porcelain base. But in a blink of my eye she is gone.
I stride out into the bright morning. I imagine the Thai boy returning to his place at the counter, shaking his head and clearing the table, wondering momentarily at the small dry husk in the bottom of my cup.