***

She gazed into the Christmas bulbs and smiled.

The smile and bulbs

seemed

to have been frozen in time,

in a well-mannered, low-keyed serenity.

The healing power of pre-New year,

of her hand movements

tuned to the silence of her beige apartment

with an antique Zinger sewing sculpture

standing right beside the window

overlooking Hasselt,

the city of jenever spirits and fashion.

Her spirit is as green as a the Flemish bay tree,

her Coco Chanel’s contours,

her unfailing willingness to risk,

her dance whatever she dances to,

whether it is Ella Fitzgerald’s song,

or the Belgian hymn,

or the purity of psalms,

or the salon passion of Chopin’s waltzes,

or the burning heat of the Ballets Russes,

she conspires to turn the every day air

into one immortal Platonic pantomime.

She is hundred and two years old.

She is Louisa Palmen,

She is a poem,

a poem that arrived

in our plain and unsustainable republic

before the era of the full-nude 4G,

before the Internet and digital monotony,

born in the era of the celluloid sophistication of the cinema,

in the year of the Russian Revolution,

a poem to become the grand dame of Belgian Pret-A-Porter scene,

a poem that has seen the royals of the world,

the grandiosity of La Belle époque,

the horrors of both world wars,

the faces of the 20th

and the facebooks of the 21st centuries.

She gazes into the Christmas bulbs and smiles:

“There is no time for regrets.

There is time for work.

There is time for love”.