Each line is completed, it pulls back from me

Mercer Street (My Voice Becomes Softer And Softer) ©MAIERMOUL
Mercer Street (My Voice Becomes Softer And Softer) ©MAIERMOUL

For several weeks now I’ve had difficulty each time I give a reading: the letters on the page of manuscript transform themselves into a wall.

I walk patiently along this wall, but there is no door, no window, not even a bell to ring. I can’t read the sentences, even though I’m the one who wrote them. (But how can I use the word “I” so carelessly? As each line is completed, it pulls back from me and is transformed into a language I no longer understand.)

Unsure of what to do, I began to force out the first few words. Each one is a hurdle. If only the text didn’t have any words in it, I think, I’d be able to read it easily. The wall of letters blocks my view. Sometimes the sentences break off so suddenly I nearly tumble into the hole of the period. And no sooner have I gotten beyond this danger than the next sentence is already standing there in front of me with no visible entryway. How am I to begin?

Each sound plunges me into an abyss. My voice becomes softer and softer, while the written characters become louder and louder.

– Yoko Tawada, Where Europe Begins