by Margaret Atwood

Marriage is not

a house or even a tent
it is before that, and colder:
the edge of the forest, the edge

of the desert

                the unpainted stairs

at the back where we squat

outside, eating popcorn
the edge of the receding glacier
where painfully and with wonder

at having survived even
this far
we are learning to make fire


Learn the alchemy
true human beings know.
The moment you accept what troubles you’ve been given,
the door will open.

Welcome difficulty as a familiar comrade.
Joke with torment brought by the friend.
Sorrows are the rags of old clothes and jackets
that serve to cover, then are taken off.

That undressing
and the beautiful naked body underneath
is the sweetness that comes after grief.
The hurt you embrace becomes joy.
Call it to you where it can change.

A silk worm eating leaves makes a cocoon.
Each of us weaves a chamber of leaves and sticks.
Silk worms begin to truly exist
as they disappear inside that room.

Without legs we fly.
When I stop speaking,
this poem will close
and open its silent wings.

In de tuin


Wij in dit grote gras, klaver, paardebloem
en wat er wriemelt, wat ingewikkeld

wordt: de rups, de wingerd. Waaronder wij,
weer overhoop, weer door elkaar. Wij lijken

wel. Volkomen. Verwarder dan de mieren, in
dit bijzijn van de tuin, waarin begrepen:

deze wildernis. Wat er aarzelt, water valt
erover, stort en wordt van kracht.


– Patricia De Martelaere –


“No one knew the name of this day;
Born quietly from deepest night,
It hid its face in light,
Demanded nothing for itself,
Opened out to offer each of us
A field of brightness that traveled ahead,
Providing in time, ground to hold our footsteps
And the light of thought to show the way.

“The mind of the day draws no attention;
It dwells within the silence with elegance
To create a space for all our words,
Drawing us to listen inward and outward.

“We seldom notice how each day is a holy place
Where the eucharist of the ordinary happens,
Transforming our broken fragments
Into an eternal continuity that keeps us.

“Somewhere in us a dignity presides
That is more gracious than the smallness
That fuels us with fear and force,
A dignity that trusts the form a day takes.

“So at the end of this day, we give thanks
For being betrothed to the unknown
And for the secret work
Through which the mind of the day
And wisdom of the soul become one.”

~John O’ Donohue


Mijn wens voor 2019: veel zonlicht en dagelijkse momenten van stilte en verwondering.

Wat is dat eigenlijk, goede seks?

Seksuologie studeren moet je alvast niet doen om op bovenstaande vraag een antwoord te krijgen, bedenk ik me. Daar is het namelijk nooit over gegaan. Te persoonlijk? Uiteraard moet je als professor of therapeut niet uit je eigen bed “klappen”, maar er moet toch een antwoord te formuleren zijn.

Wanneer zeg je na een vrijpartij: “Wow!”?

Wat maakt dat je sommige keren nooit meer vergeet?

Het zijn potjes seks die bijzonder waren, omdat er nieuwigheid in zat. Omdat het de eerste keer was met iemand? De eerste keer dat je een bepaalde handeling hebt gedaan? De eerste keer dat je bent klaargekomen? De eerste keer op een spannende plek? Buiten, misschien?

Ofwel zat de bijzonderheid in de heftigheid, de lust, de geilheid, het verlangen, de verliefdheid? Van je partner of van jezelf?

Was het misschien een verboden potje seks? Geheim? En dus spannend?

Ofwel waren ze juist bijzonder omwille van de verbondenheid, de tederheid, de diepte, de synchroniciteit ervan.

Of, heel soms: de extase. Je wist niet meer waar jouw lichaam eindigde en waar dat van je partner begon. Een tip van de sluier werd even opgelicht. Je kreeg even een glimp te zien van the other side.

Hoe dan ook, goede seks is seks waar je volledig opgewonden van wordt. Goede seks heeft niets te maken met een bepaalde volgorde van (technische) handelingen. Seks kan namelijk technisch helemaal juist zitten, tot het orgasme toe, en toch verschrikkelijk saai en voorspelbaar zijn.

Voor goede seks moet er iets onverwachts zijn, iets spannend. Ook al vrij je met je bedpartner van jaren. Als hij (of zij) erin slaagt je te verrassen, je speels uit te dagen: kom, laat je gaan, dan raak je opgewonden.

Elke echt goede vrijpartij is net dat tikkeltje anders dan anders.

Wat ook opwindend is, is de lust van de ander voelen. Je begeerd weten, is geil.

Alle puzzelstukjes die op hun plaats vallen, ook dat is goede seks. Je bent (en/of je partner is) op het goede hormonale moment van je/haar cyclus. Je bent niet te moe of te gestresseerd. Je bent niet ziek, hebt geen pijn. Je hebt geen kou. Je bent in de stemming. Je partner raakt je daar aan waar je het lekker vindt, lang genoeg, je zinkt weg in het moment, in een fantasie, of juist niet, je blijft heel erg hier-en-nu. Je laat je gaan.

We hebben al een paar onderdelen van ons antwoord:

Nieuw, heftig, spannend, onverwacht.


Lust, je begeerd weten.

Maar ook: verbondenheid, diepte.

En: je kunnen/durven laten gaan.

De beste seks bevindt zich volgens mij precies op dat snijpunt tussen grijpen/gegrepen worden en diepe tederheid ervaren.

Maar vergis je niet, dat pakken, dat gepakt worden, dat is wat seks opwindend maakt. En getuige mogen zijn van iemand die zich laat gaan, die klaarkomt, dat is wat het zo schoon maakt, vertederend: dat gij u zo veilig voelt bij mij.

Eerst de opwinding, de lust, het genieten. Het pure plezier. Het elkaar laten genieten, ook. Zelfs al gaat je partner helemaal op in zijn of haar fantasie.

Als je niet te ver gaat, tot voorbij de grens, tot aan de afgrond, kom je niet tot dat orgasme.

Dan pas, in een terugkerende beweging, de liefde, de tederheid, de verbondenheid.

Als je té teder bent, kan je niet pakken. Als je té braaf bent, kan je niet gepakt worden. Goede seks vraagt om een beetje agressie, net wat nodig is om te kunnen pakken, penetreren, de grens te overschrijden.

Alleen dan is het echt opwindend en al die moeite waard.




(Thank you for the) days

Thank you for the days
Those endless days, those sacred days you gave me
I’m thinking of the days
I won’t forget a single day, believe me

I bless the light
I bless the light that lights on you believe me
And though you’re gone
You’re with me every single day, believe me

Days I’ll remember all my life
Days when you can’t see wrong from right
You took my life
But then I knew that very soon you’d leave me
But it’s all right
Now I’m not frightened of this world, believe me

I wish today could be tomorrow
The night is dark
It just brings sorrow, let it wait

Thank you for the days
Those endless days, those sacred days you gave me
I’m thinking of the days
I won’t forget a single day, believe me

Days I’ll remember all my life
Days when you can’t see wrong from right
You took my life
But then I knew that very soon you’d leave me
But it’s all right
Now I’m not frightened of this world, believe me

Thank you for the days
Those endless days, those sacred days you gave me
I’m thinking of the days
I won’t forget a single day, believe me

I bless the light
I bless the light that shines on you believe me
And though you’re gone
You’re with me every single day, believe me
-Raymond Douglas Davies/The Kinks-1994

Know Deeply, Know Thyself More Deeply

Go deeper than love, for the soul has greater depths,
love is like the grass, but the heart is deep wild rock
molten, yet dense and permanent.

Go down to your deep old heart, woman, and lose sight of yourself.
And lose sight of me, the me whom you turbulently loved.

Let us lose sight of ourselves, and break the mirrors.
For the fierce curve of our lives is moving again to the depths
out of sight, in the deep dark living heart.

But say, in the dark wild metal of your heart
is there a gem, which came into being between us?
is there a sapphire of mutual trust, a blue spark?
Is there a ruby of fused being, mine and yours, an inward glint?

If there is not, O then leave me, go away.
For I cannot be bullied back into the appearances of love,
any more than August can be bullied to look like March.

Love out of season, especially at the end of the season
is merely ridiculous.
If you insist on it, I insist on departure.

Have you no deep old heart of wild womanhood
self-forgetful, and gemmed with experience,
and swinging in a strange union of power
with the heart of the man you are supposed to have loved?

If you have not, go away.
If you can only sit with a mirror in your hand, an ageing woman
posing on and on as a lover,
in love with a self that now is shallow and withered,
your own self–that has passed like a last summer’s flower–

then go away–

I do not want a woman whom age cannot wither.
She is a made-up lie, a dyed immortelle
of infinite staleness.

– D. H. Lawrence –

The journey

Above the mountains
the geese turn into
the light again

Painting their
black silhouettes
on an open sky.

Sometimes everything
has to be
inscribed across
the heavens

so you can find
the one line
already written
inside you.

Sometimes it takes
a great sky
to find that

first, bright
and indescribable
wedge of freedom
in your own heart.

Sometimes with
the bones of the black
sticks left when the fire
has gone out

someone has written
something new
in the ashes of your life.

You are not leaving.
Even as the light fades quickly now,
you are arriving.

-David Whyte-

The Ecstasy

Where, like a pillow on a bed
A pregnant bank swell’d up to rest
The violet’s reclining head,
Sat we two, one another’s best.
Our hands were firmly cemented
With a fast balm, which thence did spring;
Our eye-beams twisted, and did thread
Our eyes upon one double string;
So to’intergraft our hands, as yet
Was all the means to make us one,
And pictures in our eyes to get
Was all our propagation.
As ‘twixt two equal armies fate
Suspends uncertain victory,
Our souls (which to advance their state
Were gone out) hung ‘twixt her and me.
And whilst our souls negotiate there,
We like sepulchral statues lay;
All day, the same our postures were,
And we said nothing, all the day.
If any, so by love refin’d
That he soul’s language understood,
And by good love were grown all mind,
Within convenient distance stood,
He (though he knew not which soul spake,
Because both meant, both spake the same)
Might thence a new concoction take
And part far purer than he came.
This ecstasy doth unperplex,
We said, and tell us what we love;
We see by this it was not sex,
We see we saw not what did move;
But as all several souls contain
Mixture of things, they know not what,
Love these mix’d souls doth mix again
And makes both one, each this and that.
A single violet transplant,
The strength, the colour, and the size,
(All which before was poor and scant)
Redoubles still, and multiplies.
When love with one another so
Interinanimates two souls,
That abler soul, which thence doth flow,
Defects of loneliness controls.
We then, who are this new soul, know
Of what we are compos’d and made,
For th’ atomies of which we grow
Are souls, whom no change can invade.
But oh alas, so long, so far,
Our bodies why do we forbear?
They’are ours, though they’are not we; we are
The intelligences, they the spheres.
We owe them thanks, because they thus
Did us, to us, at first convey,
Yielded their senses’ force to us,
Nor are dross to us, but allay.
On man heaven’s influence works not so,
But that it first imprints the air;
So soul into the soul may flow,
Though it to body first repair.
As our blood labors to beget
Spirits, as like souls as it can,
Because such fingers need to knit
That subtle knot which makes us man,
So must pure lovers’ souls descend
T’ affections, and to faculties,
Which sense may reach and apprehend,
Else a great prince in prison lies.
To’our bodies turn we then, that so
Weak men on love reveal’d may look;
Love’s mysteries in souls do grow,
But yet the body is his book.
And if some lover, such as we,
Have heard this dialogue of one,
Let him still mark us, he shall see
Small change, when we’are to bodies gone.