A Public Sphere for Poetry, Politics, and Nature
The empty room I loved led to a larger one, where I lived. On the floor, by my bed, askew on a stack of books, stood my small transistor radio. It caught three stations: One was a pirate radio, broadcasting from a ship in the North Sea. The other, with Flemish news, only came on for two hours at night, & the one I listened to most was a classical music station. It played, uninterrupted, for an hour or more, then, after a minute or two of absolute silence, a woman’s exhausted voice came on. She must have been in her late eighties & constantly stumbled on musicians’ names. I can still hear her say “Rack-mun-num-nee-noff.” Every hour, the Cathedral of Our Lady chimed a while – then the treble bell rang the hour. I’d stand on a chair, lean through a dormer window to watch how Our Lady’s steeple pierced the light. Summer of ‘63. I was free, I was twenty. I fell wholly & forever in love every week. I was hungry for life & satiated by it, reading deep into the night, copying Sartre, de Beauvoir, Apollinaire, Gide, Rilke, Baudelaire, Sédar Senghor, Goethe, Rimbaud, & Lorca in my notebooks — barely sleeping before I rushed down to work, then ran back up the five steep flights to that white, lit room.
‘The Empty Room I Loved’ from These Many Rooms (c) 2019 by Laure-Anne Bosselaar. Appears with permission of Four Way Books. All rights reserved.