The Golden Flower Made Out Of Paper sounds like
a fairytale but it’s a place and it has three names.
You know one already now of course but the throaty Flemish next one sends you to places in the mouth
that could be dormant, neglected, maybe even entirely ignored, ‘Het Goudblommeke in Papier’.
In French the origamish name sings skywards
‘La Fleur en Papier Doré’, the lips send it sailing.
Looks can be deceiving and so are golden flowers especially ones made out of paper.
This Golden Flower is a bar
deep in the bleary beery belly of Brussels.
You wouldn’t go in if you didn’t know it was there.
It used to be a convent, of the sisters of St-Vincentius a long time ago before it became what it is now,
which was a long time ago too.
Old, crooked, dim, candle-flickering,
with the whispers of Vespers about it,
you can hardly take your eyes off the walls, a murmuring kind so dark they draw you in and
make you think you’re seeing twice a blackness,
a blackness that makes you blink at the blotting depth in front of you, that expands and retracts in blind reds and browns, as the eyes adjust to light cast from the few amber lamps. Amazing, or frightening or just a plain old miracle how every piece of us adjusts,
eventually, to everything. Everything.
The old cold walls are covered in fading sepia prints
of long gone beauties in their prime, and charming framed doodles paid in lieu of francs for beer that sated René Magritte, Hugo Claus, and other extraordinary editors of the ordinary. Why write. Why paint. You’ll never make a living.
We’re alive though aren’t we?
The darkness that’s implied in the daylight-less woody depths of beer cask and cork is a taste of Belgian earth
that Hugo Claus, in his Sorrow of Belgium, said still tastes of corpses, but if ghosts are just an absence of our own making, then it’s just pure sour lambic beer with a sweetly fizzling cherry kick from the orchards of Flanders, that tickles the back of your throat and cossets you to the very pit, and shudders your shoulders in a universal liturgy for the irreligious.
We all come to drink, we all must taste, we all walk in footprints with the means to leave our own if
we’re canny and able enough
to walk outside some of the lines.
And in this place of shadows and empires of muted light, you see it, see that you must write, that you must paint. Because that is how the golden flowers grow.
And when you curve over the glowing amber in the glass, and taste this water of the ages, we who take out the pen, and light the lanterns and make our own silhouettes know, that looks aren’t deceiving.
It’s a matter of seeing.
And you know too, that there is gold in paper.