It’s that time of night when fear grows tumours. But it’s also when I find a mental clarity which often eludes me these days.
Before I woke I dreamt of the day we met. Once again I saw you, walking towards me through the mist, your face, unaware of watching eyes, wrapped in a dream. And just as it had all those years ago, the veil of your hair, dew-laden, shimmered as if with a thousand tiny pearls. As soon as I saw you, Mol, I swear – the minute I clapped eyes on you – I said to myself: That’s my girl; that’s my girl.
My heart was racing when I woke and there was an ache I’ve not felt for years.
So here I am, writing a letter I won’t send like an old fool. What happened, Mol? What went wrong between us? We were great at first, you can’t deny that. Those early days, when the bed was our universe, was that love?
Having written the word ‘love’, suddenly I’m not sure what it means. I read somewhere that Eskimos have over fifty words for ‘snow.’ If that’s true then ‘snow’ becomes a generality, the heading to a category, like ‘plant’ or ‘animal.’
Maybe ‘love’ is the same.
I’ve got down the thesaurus you got me that Christmas because you were sick of me saying that everything was ‘great.’
Here are some words for love: attraction, desire, passion, adoration. And yes, in those early days we ticked all those boxes. But what about later?
There are other words in that old thesaurus: affection, kindness, friendship, treasure.
It seems to me, Mol, that friendship and affection somehow got lost along the way. How did that happen? Was it laziness? I think on my part it was stupidity. I guess I thought that as we were a couple it was job sorted. I kind of stopped seeing you, if you know what I mean. You were just a necessary presence in my life, like air or water.
I know now you tried to pull me back. ‘Listen to me! Why don’t you LISTEN to me!’ God, how many times did you yell that at me? But why did I need to listen to what I’d already heard a thousand times or about something that didn’t interest me?
That’s the problem, I switched off sight and sound so what was left?
I’ve just thought of Dante’s Inferno. Didn’t he have different levels of Hell? Well maybe there are different levels of love and if you don’t move from one to another you get stuck in a groove until it becomes unbearable. Once kindness, affection and friendship have been worn out there’s nothing left but indifference and ritual.
I’ve heard that you met someone else and are doing just fine. I’m glad, you deserve it. I met someone too and, yes, I’m very happy. Because I learnt my lesson, Mol, I’ve moved to the next level, to the treasure at the heart’s core.
In the month of Valentine Angela’s homework for our next meeting on 22 February is to write up to a page about ‘Love.’ It can be a short play, prose or poetry about love. Angela said she would prefer it to be about romantic love although it could be ironic or about sibling love. Angela cited Shakespeare’s Sonnets on love as being good examples which are particularly ironic about love.
The homework set at the last meeting on the 23rd November was to do a blog entry.
Imagine you have a blog and create a blog piece about anything you want. Aim for ‘divine creativeness’. It could be something from your day or a recent event or just a random idea you want to share on your blog. Limit it to 200 words. Have it ready for the first meeting of 2018 on the 11th January.
Write a completely unpunctuated piece (prose or poetry) and set yourself a strict 10 minute time limit to do this in. No capitals, full stops etc. It should be a stream of consciousness writing form relating to an event or moment in your day. Something that moved you during that day. Possibly seasonal.
Then write it again with full punctuation. Keep both versions.
Hans Christian Andersen by Anne Grahame Johnstone – see art.co.uk for info’
At our meeting on the 6th April, tutor Angela Locke invited us to enjoy her copy of this framed painting. The work features Hans Christian Andersen and some of his stories can be identified ‘around the edges.’
Writers were asked to ‘keep in the mind’s eye’ an image from the painting and – there and then – allow a piece of writing to flow from that. Great pieces ensued and were shared aloud around the table.
Homework for presentation on the 11th May involves something similar. Jot down some stories ‘around the edges’ of your young life, and distil one or some of these into 100 words.
Allsorts came out of an exercise in thinking about an ‘Invisible Woman’ …
So they say
Men survey. Women are surveyed. Or so they say. Not Wilma, the Unseen Woman though. She is outside now, listening to workmen rebuilding the storm damaged wall, discussing imaginary conquests and what could be paraphrased as their bra sizes, simultaneously rolling stones into groups defined by their largeness. She goes downriver, where fishermen are comparing their catches both pescatorial and pectorial. She reaches the harbour. Here the ships are in and the sailors strutting. The talk is of salt, seaweed, barnacles and spray. Brandy and wild wide waves. Depth, and swell.
Wilma steps out of invisibility and enters the ocean.
Road building in Poland, August 1961: Lost innocence
She melded in the Tatras.
The only girl, small, neat, bright and American, among a motley bunch of British students on UN vacation work experience.
Ostensibly road building, she lit up days off in the mountains and by the river.
We met, relaxed, in pre-Wall Berlin, about to ‘do good’, naive, self-important.
We returned, frightened, to find the Wall and armed guards.
Clinging to our passports, hers, being American, was most scrutinised.
She alone stayed calm.
We all had fallen for her.
Then she disappeared.
She was called Ruth.
Where is my son? Handcuffed and swept, Unwitnessed, from a street at dawn. A hood over his head, the pressing gun Butted against a mother left to mourn. Jammed behind a passenger seat Hearing only the engine’s growl, And a passing siren that’s not for him. An electric prod sparks, and naked Howls leave sores exposed and weeping, Whilst grief seeps through bones, Turning my chestnut smooth to grey. Everyday I visit this place For I trust in you my Lord. I listen to all the Government’s reasoning, The lies fantastical – no one can quibble Suffocate in fear and longing for truth.
The woman came to me for cutting.
My mother said NO.
I went back to school but nobody would speak to me.
Without cutting there will be no husband.
I didn’t understand.
We moved to a shack in the city.
My Mum cried. I cried.
At my new school the teacher took us to see a film.
A lady said that the cutting was bad for us.
Two of her children had died when they were cut.
The lady on the film was my Mum.
Her two children were my twin sisters Marti and Fatu.
Now I understand.
I dress ‘to kill’ in my feathers and skills.
Shimmering moonlight fills the bedroom. The stone walls glinting, reflecting movements of the river below.
I am cool and white like the moonlight, silky, smooth.
My naked body, cool in his hands.
Weightless, substance-less, I am about to float into space, a familiar journey. When he tries to stop me.
‘Open – your – eyes,’ he commands. He wants to see me.
My body is performing skilfully but I cannot open my eyes. I am only partly there. I have almost gone. Trapped in terror between the worlds of visible and invisible.
I always make my real self invisible …
The First Time
The first time Tom saw Dylan, in 1965, there was already a buzz surrounding this young American songwriter. Queueing, Tom chatted nervously to the girl in front of him. Her A- levels, like his, were near. Once inside the City Hall she disappeared to the balcony.
Eventually Dylan was on stage and for about fifteen songs epitomised presence and lyrical virtuosity in equal measure. At the end of the best two hours of Tom’s young life he filed out for the last bus home, but under a streetlight, smiling, stood the girl from earlier. ‘I can hitch home’ he thought.
Sunday teatime table set, linen tablecloth, lace doilies. Best china polished off and gleaming. Homemade cake, scones and strawberry jam. Hot toasted teacakes run with butter.
Around the table animated talk between mother, father and teenage children. Love, laughter and warmth radiate.
Sunday teatime table set, oilcloth. Crockery chipped and mismatched. Shop bought cake. Mother’s apron hangs forlornly on a hook. Father sits alone, children grown, seeds scattered on the wayward wind.
Sunday teatime table set, linen and lace. Best china adorned with homemade fare. Everyone engaged in animated conversations. Mother seated centre table, heart and soul of the family.
Colette knew they would be coming to claim another victim for Madame Guillotine.
Invisible in the background, never acknowledged, she was a shadow, a faithful, loyal wife. She prepared canvases, mixed paint, even painted whole areas of the portrait. He was the foremost painter of the day. The patronage of the nobility gone, he had fled to England.
The knocking on the door was insistent and she answered fearful for her life. Instantly she recognised the visitor. It was the leader of the mob who insisted she paint his portrait.
Colette became a fine miniaturist.
She divorced her husband.
On becoming invisible
Don’t look for me, I’m gone, but look in the morning shadow across the landing, the sag of the bed, the dregs in the cup, the living, breathing void, a space in the air where my heart still beats. So eat from the fridge, and drink from the tap, walk on the cinder path with bare feet, hold on to everything, and I’ll be holding too. And when your hand slips across the sheet one cold early morning, seeking warmth let me meet it, and let me carry you across the threshold.