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!
One for the dictionary! When you’re just about ‘well’ enough to try again:
As often as mind has room I fume a failproof lookalike who strolls about town. Oh, the places she has seen! Priceless when fancy factualises for a wisp of time. A caper on my scooter – first in a year, or two. Almost called out – look at me! – like a child riding her bike without stabilisers on. Hung a while on armchair at the bookshop twenty doors from mine, tried a little conversation. Turns out a semblance of normality is quite a strain.
In a matter of minutes home and supine again. Slept in clothes that night, entwined with spectre. Days later the idea of a repeat seems preposterous, but: elsewhere was achieved, momentarily. Blue plaque please?
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
In bed (not on) long before evening falls; still bright outside, not nearly night. Like most, or all, I waited for the light of spring, green shoots, raw splendour to refute earth’s plight, yours, mine. Yet now that days step up their game, I find that spring does not reside in me, take hold, drive buds and blossoms. Or not the kind I hope for.
A roll call by the weathervane finds selfsames skittered out the door. Just words now: artist, maker, reader, earner, sleeper, walker, failed lover, lucky friend… One with steady hands, one who remembered, one who talked a mile a minute hours on end and savoured silence. So earnest, so keen to do things right, with a propensity for shame. I wish I’d worried less, been bolder.
At sunrise: Take me to the warden, for a slice of day, a pound of night!