Today it’s some freewrites I did over the weekend, suggested just by a list of words. They are by nature bitty, going from one thought to the next, sometimes going into the ideas, sometimes not. They are jumpy and abrupt. Bear with me. They paint little pictures in their way. (Soon I shall talk to you normally again, you wait and see.) (As in, I can't keep going like this for long, I will tire; I'm a write in bursts person, usually.)
Room – The Black Room, where a bad 80’s film is to me a classic of vampirism; though it sounds like it should be a real classic, with Jane Asher and Vincent Price. Reminding me of that dream I had the other day where I waited for the torture-porn dentist to get to me next, as he carved away the face of the man in the chair. There was no blood, it just became more and more fish like, until he almost stopped whimpering. The scalpel sculpted him and fronded out his face, creating frills and curlicues where before was human skin. He created a monster, a sad and scared bloodless fish. Why did I keep asking if I was next, so impatiently?
Violet – A grandmother I never had, a mother in law who likes, as I do, the taste of violet sweets, the crunchy wrappers. The grandmother hovers over us both, capacious bosom wrapped about with lace, or muslin, or just well washed wool. She watches with approval as we talk of lavender water and simple things to cure simple ills. She is the woman in the supermarket, who couldn’t stop laughing at me when I bought mashed potato ready made. I smiled at her in the queue, mistaking her mocking smile for friendliness, and commented on how quick dinner would be, seeing her watch my items on the belt. She couldn’t stop her smile cracking out, ‘be just as quick if you made it yeself, gel,’ and she smiled at me, the mouth curled and not hostile. Just better than me. I felt as if I understood, it’s a generation thing; but also that she was right and I am badly lazy; and sad at being judged so flagrantly, by a stranger.
Avalon – there the hills roll and sweep, and the landscape is Terry Gilliam in it’s parody of itself. Will King Arthur always be lost to us as a myth? Always sad and far away, always a cliché and never a reality? But how can he be a reality – if he came now he’d be a bit racist, wouldn’t he? Saving England for the English (or one could argue, for the French, since so many French authors contributed to the myth). I know, I know, Avalon and King Arthur are a state of mind: the English are those who love this land, wherever they come from. But he…Always doomed to sail away, dying, and have to come back later? And never quite getting here? Jesus, for the non conventionally religious, but nostalgically minded. In some myths a Christian grail seeker; in others, a pagan hero.
Watermelon – Inside the red lays the juice. Dripping, sticky, wet. Like Fluffhead’s milky chops when we feed him and he breaks off and just smiles at us, his mouth coated all around. A treat, a farthing, a quiet moment. My favourite fruit – but not too much of it, can’t eat too much of it. Novels by Irish writers who are so fluid they make me laugh – don’t even waste time being jealous. Sweet like Rapunzel in her tower to a man looking from below. Unknown, and somehow never quite enough. Watery, soft, crunchy like candy floss and gone as soon. A drink and a meal, and a stain on the sofa that just won’t come off.
Fan – Victorian women telling stories by their hands, almost Japanese in the economy of their movements. Peeking out from behind the shield of paper – authors, in their way.
Failure – One of the most ennobling things anyone can do – try, be brave, fail. Try more. Don’t be too down heartened – be bonkers and be convinced, keep going. Do it differently. Be black, not white, be open, not closed – be a door always slightly ajar. Be Fluffhead: be convinced the world WILL understand you if you cry long enough. Be round, jocund, spacious – encompass all. Don’t be scared unless it lights a fire that keeps your fingers skittering over the keyboard, your eyes squinting to find the letters as the flames lick them away from your sight. Move faster, don’t stop, until you are motionless in speeding space, all around you at a speed the same, and therefore no speed at all. You have arrived in a tiny split second moment – and it might be all you ever have of enlightenment. And then you fall, you attain a different speed. You are back with us all (hello), and we grin at you like the stupid apes we all can be; and you doubt where you were, but don’t. The memory is true. The experience worth striving for. Do it again, keep going for the occasional second of laughing perfection, the split second of rapture, of connectedness. Yes. Do that.
Misty – I used to fancy her soooo much. That ethereal gothy comic cover girl. Her slightly flicky hair. Her almond eyes, dark and expressionless. They were, really – cover her mouth and her eyes said nothing. Her mouth always said – ‘come here, follow’…And I always read the comic, the annual, the special, and I was always a bit disappointed – but also always wanted more.
Leaves – I don’t know where the leaves used to go – it seemed they fell from the trees, or were ripped the way Fluffhead reaches for everything and tears at it, in his 2 year old greed. Then they were gone. There should have been huge drifts of them, but there weren’t, not anymore. In my childhood, I remembered there being drifts, in people’s gardens, in the parks we went to. Here, the leaves fall fast from the trees, and are in the garden for an afternoon. The next day they are gone. This is despite the fact that when the wind rages at night I can hear it, the whole house creaks and groans with it. And when it rains, something right by my window drips and drips, incessantly, irregularly, all night. Fluffhead twitches in his sleep, hearing it. What does he dream?
Moonraker – How can anyone dislike a film with such amazing sweeping music? I really feel the pull of space when I am there, floating. And I hate space usually. It’s both too much (by far), and not enough at all (claustrophobia). It’s like the interior of my own eyes – but I can’t open them. I can’t choose – there is no choice either way. I am lost in the dark. Like the dream I had long ago – calling, knowing I was dead, and surrounded by darkness – ‘Is anyone there? Hello? Hello?’ Knowing there was no one, and would never be anyone. Interestingly, I have no idea if I was dead in hell, or dead on my way somewhere, or simply brain dead and stuck in my decomposing body…there was no religious overtone to this dream, despite my questing for this knowledge my whole life. I was as undecided in the dream, as I really am in real life. Also – I had no hope. I was alone, and that was that. Chilling. Worse than Sartre. Hell was – no other people.
Creeping – So many possible futures and places to go, so many many many. Which way does the bug go – like the Virginia Woolf story. Which way does the tiny slug on my doorstep choose to go, the one with the tiny questing antenna, the tiny little head born hands, crying on the wind, always wet, always blind and trying to find the way…home? Or the promised land of compost and whatever it is that slugs eat? (Must look up what slugs eat, I bet everyone knows except me.) On his belly, Fluffhead creeps, drags, really, his self along. One hand almost trapped beneath him, the other pulling himself along. He’s adept, he is a proper shot soldier from a war film – he can drag himself across the room like a very bulky and athletic worm, in under 30 seconds. Can pivot on a coin. Then bound up and run away, the creeping game finished.
Garden – So much more than a garden, mine is. Having never had a garden before, it’s a treasure of dreams. The wildlife – its my own piece of outside, with no people, and a thousand animals to watch – the fox as large as an Alsatian loping through with skinny confidence. The squirrel with the incredibly twitchy, fluffy (flea-ed?!) tail. The bluetits at the feeder; the tiny sparrows, the robin red breast – so beautiful there. The three cats seen so far: the black and white with the small white socks, with skitterish, wary eyes, but who will rub against you with love and affection for seconds before jumping away, if you can entice her. The fatter black and white one, that makes feints at birds under guise of mincing along – and always misses. The marmalade and white one that lives outside the house opposite, and never seems to get to go in. The dragonflies that roam in pairs. And are so fast. The hoverflies I mistook for wasps. The wasps. The fat bumblebees that feast happily on the buddleia and lavender. Whatever it is that Fluffhead and I planted in the most basic and shoe swipy fashion, coming through – so far it looks like clover; maybe it will be fat red poppies. At least some of it is supposed to be romantic English flowers like hollyhocks. The woodpecker with his red head and startling yellow under wing area, long brown beak. The magpies (‘afternoon captain’) – always the one for sorrow, but seen so often I take him for joy, as it seems he multiplies himself, or else a family of him own this area and the house opposite, where he struts up and down all day.
Reflection – How deep does glass go – how much can you actually see? How much is your reflection, going on forever – as in old dressing table mirrors with 3 sides that you could fold yourself into, as I did at my nan’s house when I was small (ah, the smell of her house – precious). The little ever repeating and faded images of me, going on and on. I wondered if they were all with me, or all far away, very far away. Another world. If I thought of it now, I would wonder if they were all in another dimension. And then Sherri S. Tepper could write a really good book about it. I would not, not for now, anyway.
Edit – Murder Your Darlings, said John McCollough, who was already quoting someone else. Can you imagine Jessica Fletcher having to edit? How business-like and unemotional she would be about it. I used to hate the edit, but A215, and John, taught me to love it as a whole separate writing process. One where you reinvent. I can see why lovers of poetry would be good at the edit. And I still kick myself for not writing down that brilliant poem I composed on the side of the fridge, years ago, about Troubadour having pieces of himself pared away by those in The Poetry Cage who wanted him so badly (and my own jealousy and insecurity at his breadcrumb approach to marriage – ‘why worry who gets the crumbs when you have the loaf?’ – ‘If its all crumbs, its not a loaf anymore, Troubadour’...we did have some brilliant arguments with great metaphors, he and I! I remember them fondly.).
Simple – How life should be. And it would NOT be boring, for all those who sing the song of loving the complications. Rubbish. Simple merely means smooth in thought, smooth in action. You can be smooth with doing bad things as well as good, smooth in making a million dangerous mistakes. Life would not be boring. It just wouldn’t judder and spin so; you might be defenceless, attacked and at your wits end, but it wouldn’t be due to bureaucracy. It would be like nature in the garden. Though here, my logic begins to fail, I think. I am imagining the blackbird, and his worm he just picked up in his mouth. I am thinking: blackbird eats worm (or takes worm to feed family): simple. No…not simple. For the worm, who was worming in a simple way, he now faces a stomach (or whatever blackbird midsection is named – look up, put on list) churning and painful death as the blackbird hops about in a strange indecisive state, for well over 10 minutes as I watched, while he hangs from the sharp beak. Then I don’t know how long it takes him to be flown where he is going and then be eaten alive. It still is simple in a way. And inexorable. But just simple? Maybe not, maybe it doesn’t feel simple at all. Maybe it feels anything but simple. Cruel, pointless, harsh. Maybe it suggests I am anthropomorphizing like crazy. Does a worm have a brain, or real nerve endings to feel pain (look up, put on list, you have no clue)…And maybe to the blackbird, it simply feels like: dinner.
Sunlight – makes all the difference. As the day starts to feel older now, at 5.25 p.m., and the light begins to thin, I start to type more feverishly (waffling on as I am), knowing that soon (and I don’t want to think about it, here I have been feeling more me than I have in years, truly) my time here will be over. Soon I am back at the dirty sharp coalface, the sticky jungle of motherlove. Where even my eyes do not feel my own – as I am drawn to look at Fluffhead, my arms to hold (and be loved or fought against), my ears to hear that crying that feels so hurtful to me, and pointless to him. All this fades in importance in the sunlight – if I am with Fluffhead, it shines on us both as I walk about the garden with him running ahead, feeling incredibly fortunate. If without him (as now), I feel like the day will last forever and the night holds no shadows or fear. But…then the light begins to fade, and the colours are no longer so vivid. I remember I am a mother, it is my full time job, I get snippets of time
(and here’s an interruption)
…to be me…And now the day, does, inevitably, begin to end. Fluffhead is getting increasingly fractious, Stanley is hungry and wants to be fed, and I start to wane myself. Possibly. Or my training kicks in. Stanley has done less than 6 hours and is pooped. I (sort of) congratulate myself on doing 24 hours, and all the time, most days. Though I can't speak for my sanity or sense of self, resulting...This time of sunlight, of sitting in the garden, and of just being myself, have been precious.
I survive with them and on them infront and behind me. I lead a sandwich existence.