Next door declares its augmentation with screeching saws and thumping hammer blows. Builders’ lore did not prepare me! I turn a feral thing, snarling as drills roar out their diatribes. Dumpsites for thoughts are chock-a-block, and other senses in decline. Each pore an ear now, each orifice. We dream of dams and flight and being drunk on words.
Headphones harangue us for an ode: best love for Bose, I sing. But fortitude is thin as fickle, smokes fags behind the neighbours’ shed. She thinks of sourcing hearing out. Someone fetch her!
Had a run-in with time and lay in the car, stiff as a bell’s tongue, and just as mute. Pain in aspiration stage – still hoping I’ll hurl myself against walls, eager to chime.
After a blurry episode give looking another go. Burgess Park is not itself right now: tiny, lifeless, the green of grass and foliage moulded in the same garish tones. Clouds, birds, a plastic sun, tacked on a smudge of blue. We too minuscule and stuck mid-move in a scale-model some architect should have improved.
Bed, at long last. Limbs scattered like mikado sticks; palms so painful they seem large as cities. Must have crashed across the continent, one hand throbbing in Rejkavik, the other limp in the Aegean Sea. Each crumple in my sheet a mountain ridge or carved out canyon, nuzzling the gash of me. A chore to breathe.
Days shivering in sleety weather zones. I pine for hot. PEMalaise me not!
A milestone to report, minor, momentous: one evening last week I was able to watch – wait for it – half of Channel 4 News. In the living room. At 7 pm! Usually my paltry energies clock out late afternoon, but for once I was not in bed, far from sleep yet eyes ramming shutters down and ears sucking on radio dials like a babe on mother world’s breast. So: a mile pebble. A yard, inch, meter, thousand leagues mite, not repeated since, alas, but hope floods in through the tiniest of cracks.
And rushes out through great man-made gashes: the news that day concerned the fire at Grenfell Tower. The horrendous death toll (still rising) explodes my brain because, in the wider scheme of things, fire safety costs copper coins. How did we come to allow such contempt for people to reign decision-making? What if such callous denial of really very basic care becomes the norm? Words matter: social – once ethical, inclusive, humane, suddenly has a demeaning slant. We must reclaim it. We can never get over this.
First sight this morning: a lip of light around drawn blinds. Open window, lasso out to catch at clouds, at words: bath, read, write.
Former self was dawn’s creature, bickered with the birds and figured minutes might be hours might be days. Nor did she count. Books in bed, predating; once upon a time we wolfed them down, nary a nibble now. Brain is trussed with ticker tape, its constant crackle wearies. We read, we try, and pages petrify – headstones where doors swung wide.
When we’re the slightest bit awake we ache with hunger, lust for learning, visit sentences we loved, were bruised by, hoping they’ll return us to abandoned worlds. Marks in pencil, thumbnail scratches, coloured tails to pull a kite down. We meet “ein rotes Wort coming the other way.” * We wait, fangs filed.
* Anne Carson
New claim to fame: moving from bed to front-room floor most afternoons, placing my head where the sun moons over its favourite carpet patch. For a while I follow its trajectory, face turning this way, that, lapping up light as if posing for a sluggard’s role in a film I’ll never see. It’s a regular in-door roam, and now I’m filled with wishing: garden (I do swing by occasionally), gallery, bookshop, ocean, mountain-top.
When you’re supine behind is under, and in front above. I want up up up.
Last Tuesday I was out, for pleasure. First time since the book launch in November; already dreaming of more… Went with friends to Dulwich Picture Gallery – Vanessa Bell’s paintings called out to me. Favourite jeans on (flared), and riding a grin; or else a wheelchair pushed by stronger arms than mine. No coffee afterwards, no sideways glances; all energy assigned and labelled ‘art’. Beautiful portraits there, abstraction too, collages; vibrant, discerning work. Always learning, I think, trying out. Books feature – people read, which I loved especially (long to myself, so much). Good to know: DPG is well-equipped for rest, and dotted with divans. Very comfy indeed (says one who often lies on floors), in dark emerald green – most becoming with my orange blanket. No protests when I lay. Soles did not touch, I swear.
The painting I wish home with me gives an intimate glimpse of Virginia Woolf (Bell’s younger sister), looking worn, held in an armchair’s warm embrace. She’s got a piece of knitting in her lap, red as the flesh of water melon. Her hands seem caught in hesitation. I’d like to look at her every day.