Saturday, July 25, 2015

Nine Million Bicycles in Beijing

Waiting for your friends to wake up, in a cozy upstairs apartment in Brussels filling up with beautiful summer morning light, you go through a heap of cards stuck on a board above the computer table. You realize they are birth and death announcements. Each one so exquisitely and imaginatively designed.

The death announcements move you by their sheer lyricism. A photo on one side, a poem below or on the opposite page. You read the ones that are in English and Flemish. What a beautiful way to keep a loved one's memory alive - a card gifted to everyone who comes for the funeral, or mailed to everyone who knew them. With poetry on it. Celebrating who they were, and the love we have for them.

The collector of poetry that you are, you wonder - which poem would go best with each of the people you love? And what would go with you?

A woman passes away. A little girl is born. Time passes. The wheel turns. And through it all runs Love, our love that even the gods envy.

You remember how in the mythologies and folk tales across the world, there are gods and celestial beings who have chosen to come down to live a human life with all its struggles and pain, just to experience love. There is no equivalent of it up there. Heaven is right here.

There are nine million bicycles in Beijing
that's a fact
it's a thing we can't deny
like the fact that I will love you 'til I die

Katie Melua