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Once upon a time
and once only
there lived an unsightly man

and though he was very kind and hard-working
no woman got
more than one step closer to him

after a while
seeing he cannot find his soulmate
the man left the village and built himself a cabin
in the woods

all day long
he chopped wood
picked fruit and herbs
occupied himself with carpentry and animal husbandry
and grafted all sorts of trees in spring

from time to time
the villagers came to see him
asking for advice on how to heal their wounds
ordering a door
or a bed
and less often
a coffin

but the man in the woods
though more and more sought-after
was
more and more miserable
as time went by

one day
unable to possess his soul anymore
wove a rope
and went to the oldest oak
to hang himself
but the oak
who had seen so much in its life
but never a man so wretched
broke the branch he was hanging on
then covered him with leaves
so that no one could find him
right next to its trunk

but
underneath the leaves
our man fell asleep at once
and woke up before God
and he said to Him
Lord
You know that ever since I was a child
I have been careful not to tread on ants
or any kind of crawlers
I have not stolen
I have not lied
I have worked all my life
for all that I earned
inspite of these
I am really miserable
that no woman wants me

and the Lord said
I know you very well
there is hardly anyone as kind as you out there
but as much as I love you
I cannot create a woman so unbeautiful
to love you
but
you can

look
from the dried oak branches
you can shape a woman's body
fill it with clay and wrap it in leaves
and I will take care of the rest

so, after he woke up
our hero
worked on his clay creature for three whole days
but fearing she would reject him
he made her even more unattractive than he was

on the third day
he called God
and asked Him to give her life
and the Lord
as promised
blew the breath of life into the woman

seeing this wonder
the man was grateful to the Lord
then woke her up gently
with a kiss on the forehead
she then opened her eyes and asked him:
who are you
and why are you
so hideous that you are scaring me

to which he cried and said
forgive me
I am your servant
The Lord made me like this
to protect you from wild beasts
but I am hard-working and wise
to care for you how I know best

but she closed her eyes
and then he understood
to only care for her
in secret

and as he loved her more and more
her ugliness began to fade
becoming more beautiful with every passing day

soon
a young villager came to ask for remedies for his mother
and not little was his surprise
when he saw the most beautiful woman
he had ever seen
and she saw him, too
and understood what love is
oh, how she whined that night

seeing all this
the man who dreamt too much
told her the following day
look
I know it is time to go our separate ways
I cared for you as well as I could
and I hope you are not dissatisfied with anything
go with that handsome young man
and should you need anything
look for me
if you can bear to look me in the eye
and so she did

years later
while keeping himself busy with a bee garden
the man in the woods felt her presence behind him
but, afraid not to scare her,
he did not turn around
and she cried out:
I eventually learned the whole story
so I came to ask for your forgiveness
and look into your eyes
and the man
who had stopped dreaming for a long time
turned around and was astonished
to see before him
the most unsightly woman in the world
but he did not mind
so, he cared for her
just like that first day
and she regained her beauty and happiness
and perhaps
the man in the woods would have never learnt
why his woman caressed him with so much joy
if one day he did not look in the water of a spring
and see
the most handsome man
there has ever been
out there
I also sew gobelin
portraits in particular
but the eyes are always made by grandmother -
she cried a lot more
I saw the first calf being born
how the cow licked its forehead
its eyes
its legs
I watched it have trouble standing up
then walk better and better
in search of the stable door
and licking my dad's hand on the threshold

I saw all this
when I was a child
and father did not know why I was crying

but I caught a glimpse of it
(I only tell you now, daddy)
in the blade of the knife
you used to cut the umbilical cord

and as it flowed
the blood knew it would be touching that blade
one last time
there are few of us at the beach
some look at the sky and seem happy
others keep evanescent things under their arm
such as the turtle they caught at dawn
but as it gets dark
we become so sad
not even light can get to us
not even the photographer
who keeps ciphering out in a notebook
and moving us around
to make room for
Death in the picture
besides memories
a piece of meat is all I have left
from our last pig

it is in the freezer
it is the right hind leg

last summer during the solar flare
there was a blackout
that lasted for two days

one by one
the fowl, the ducks and the plums thawed
and I threw them away
but the big pork leg
remained frozen

whenever a solar flare is announced
I put it in the cooler bag
and take it with me on trips

the hardest is when I bring it home
I do not know why
from one trip to another
I can barely fit it in the drawer

so I cut another slice
not much
just so I do not forget
how I called its name
and it ran up the hill to me
grunting happily

how it chased mother around the yard
when she beat me up
and as a reward
I gave it the best apples
those for the apple pies

but most of all
how I held its hind leg
when they slaughtered it
and it did not struggle for a minute
until I let it go
seeing each other
crying
mother
I never crouched better
to your chest
like now
when you are
grass
it is forever raining
I am gazing out the window

I see myself a child again
standing before my classmates,
my hand put out

I am sweating
my cheeks are flushed
the teacher slaps me with a wooden ruler
on the palm

that will teach you a lesson
he cries out
next time you shall pay attention in class
instead of staring out the window

I feel ashamed
my hand starts swelling slowly
it is warm
it is hot
it is the size of the teacher's hand

I am like a puppy that only opens its eyes
after it has learnt to whine
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