Two Woolf readers respond to the theme …
The Burning Question
Short work of nonfiction by Marie Hélène Prosper
It is alarmingly dark in my dream.
I try to grasp the blackness before me when all at once bills of money materialize, in tens, twenties or more, and come flying towards me from all directions. All the money I possess. I reach out and grab handfuls from all around, piling the bills on the ground. I strike a match and throw it over the whole thing, onto this heap that contains my material worth, my life savings, my security. I watch as fire catches; a small piece crackles, sparks a flame and sends tinsels flitting about in the air. I am astonished by the finality of my act as I look on and it all burns to ashes.
I feel emotions rise and swell then, as my night-world of dreams recedes and vanishes along with my slow climb back to full consciousness. That is when realisation kicks in: Money is burnable waste. A pile of cash can go up in smoke in seconds, at once obliterating all the time and toil expended in its acquisition. Such a thing cannot be undone!
Now comes the question: If material wealth can be so easily destroyed, what riches in my life are not?
Poem by Claire Doble
There’s money all around this town
But not a lot for me
It’s sleeping in the Dolder Grand,
floating on the Zürichsee
What’s a lot? I hear you ask
You seem comfortably off
Money’s like sleep, I reply
You never have enough
I enjoy wealth’s spoils and feasts;
health, safety, life that’s light
I work hard for it as well,
but do I have the right
to take for granted all that’s here
Just because … it is?
I guess you can’t buy knowledge
of how the other half lives
Money’s funny—both more and less
Than what it represents
My time but not my effort
Dollars but not sense
So here’s the rub, somewhere between
Dollars, francs and euros
It’s a money-driven land, this Schweiz
And that’s why, I suppose:
I spend too much on everything
I never seem to save a thing
And yet I do not sink, but swim
the tides of money, out and in.