I was not made to live anywhere except in Paradise.
Such, simply, was my genetic inadaptation.
Here on earth every prick of a rose-thorn changed into a wound.
whenever the sun hid behind a cloud, I grieved.
I pretended to work like others from morning to evening,
but I was absent, dedicated to invisible countries.
For solace I escaped to city parks, there to observe
and faithfully describe flowers and trees, but they changed,
under my hand, into the gardens of Paradise.
-- Czeslaw Milosz
It seemed to have been written for me. I found it scribbled on a piece of paper in a battered book picked out of a big basket in a crowded shop run by an old hippie who was painting postcards at the cash register. Outside, a tough old Thai with tattooed arms was playing a guitar. As I was leaving the shop, an aggressive woman stopped me for a long discussion about writers from the Industrial Revolution because she was looking for translations of these into Thai as a present for a Thai boxer. When I came out of the shop, the monsoon had begun and the guitarist had been joined by several other Thais, all singing. Some of them had ties on, they seemed to be on their way home from work... during my first few days at the dodgy end of Bangkok, I felt like I was actually in a book.
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