It’s been a while since I’ve put up any writing exercises, any ruminating. That’s because I’ve been deep in a reading fit (lots of history books), plus I’m doing some coursework on some longer stuff, longer short stories and a novel (yes, yet another one, one day I’ll finish one too!). But I went through a whole heap of old stuff the other day and found some of it not bad. Idiosyncratic (or if you don’t like me/ feel impatient, translate: ‘self indulgent’!), but I thought it flowed on in a weird and ok meander.
This segment of Time Mining are some freewrites just from random words that I did in 2009; these ones all came from the same cluster. I noticed an obsession with honey about half way though; which is strange as I got it again about 3 years later (except for eating, not writing about). But honey wasn’t the centre word in the cluster, so not sure why it kept recurring, except it’s a dead sensual substance. Anyway, here are the freewrites. They are meant to be what they are – just wanders, with little structure or edit, so don’t expect a story. They're a bit all over the place. I just liked some of the phrases and images that came up. It’s a day dream for you, for a minute or two…
Freewrites from Clusters
Pelting deeply, inner jungle. Once again the parakeets swoop overhead, feathers balancing raindrops as perfect and shiny as new leaves. The sepia picture that hangs in the meeting room pauses all this action – the screaming fronds knocking back and forth, wet blankets gusting together in the wind of a rainy-swept Irish morning, somewhere in Kerry…Matronly woman stumps forth from low stone cottage, cottage all grey and beige. Head down against the wind, bonnet on. Her chin is reddened and set from a thousand mornings that felt like this one. A thousand wet blankets that didn’t get a chance to dry. And over in the jungle, far continents away, small insects of brilliant green and blue wait motionless in the places between woods and leaves. Wait for the rain to end so they can carry on the ceaseless business of being genetically programmed to reproduce, eat other small shoots and leaves, and secrete a acidlike substance onto the stalks of certain leaves, after they detect a certain odour that may be their nemesis of a sister bug.
Matron feels the rain score down her face, icelike cold. She pulls her shawl further round her, wishes for buttons. Ties the ends in a knot to prevent them leaping away from her. Grasps at the edges of hard flannelette blankets, now dripping with wet. Suddenly the wind dies off, the blankets hang limply, no longer possessed. The sound of dripping is everywhere. Her hands are red and sore. From the inside of the house comes a smell of mutton, boiling. A baby’s cry. She thinks, but only small – where did life go?
Women in velvet cloaks that billow, as they do in books and films. Cloaks in jewel colours, spreading wide as they walk. Naked within them. The evening is warm, and not so light now. Deeper into the forest the women go. There are four of them. All look straight ahead of them and do not deviate from the path lit by small luminous insects, suspiciously, dreamily arrayed in waving lines. They are the path edges. The women know this. They proceed, barefoot.
Each woman knows that this is where it starts, this is where the men become men, and women become fuller. Mist rises up from inside the body, mist rises up from the ground.
The women feel they are melting one into the other as they reach the inner ring, a clearing, where the fire burns and naked men stand.
It is a dream priests have had, vicars, men who are lonely, women who thirst for more power (any power), women who cannot get thin. They cannot try, for reasons unknown to them. They are lost in dreams and each of them fuels this dream. All those wishes for clarity of purpose, for meaning to life.
All of them dream pagan dreams and these women, real or imagined, stand at the centre of the clearing, the fire almost burning their backs. They drop their cloaks. Russet, ruby, kingfisher, priest purple.
They stand, with light in the hair and look over the men. Breasts are tautened, or heavy with need, nipples are purple.
The men step forward and so do the women, some change places, padding of feet.
A woman reaches up, and with hands warm and dry, encircles the face of a man – she pulls him to her and puts her tongue in his mouth.
You know how it goes, pagan dreaming. They all make shapes in the darkness, and noises of harsh or softer pleasure. The women writhe when their muscles seize, before the peace spreads through their bellies. The men tauten and muscles sing with effort, and need to spill spill spill. And after they hold each other together and feel how they just fulfilled their purpose. How come past Brigid’s feasts next year, there may be small humans coming, more.
This is one pagan dreaming. Just one. A stereotype that we nonetheless dream.
After the horses gallop and sweat and are fastened back into their stables, sinking to the ground under the weight of good dreams…after the oats are eaten and the men with stirrups have put away all the leather harnesses, small girls come out and daub themselves with mud. In patterns not seen usually at Christmas or birthday parties. They have long little claw like nails, which they use to scoop up the mud and then flick it over their own small legs, as yet hairless.
Their mothers come out and tell them not to dirty their pink, and daffodil yellow, faun suede coats – but this is all too late and useless. The year drones on and blackbirds get heavy with all the red berries they are eating. Some plop into the mud in mid flight, some fall on the girl’s heads as they play. It is all a confusion, and under the deep blue sky – or the dark and angry lowering grey sky, very little makes sense. Except what wind burns the face of one cold and wet, and fire warms the hands of one cold and wet. Mud stains suede and has to be dried thoroughly before it can be cracked off.
Older women make jam in spring and autumn and feel this tunes them to the season. They suggest their son’s move house now whilst unemployed, as they buzz within their own heads where jam and other sweetmeats are a concern, and money is invisible. How do you move house without money? Except in Legoland. It is all muddy; the little girl’s have more sense of it all than we do. No matter that we are now 36 and 40. It is all a haze – a camera lens smeared over with mud. I don’t understand any of it.
It seems like honey could be everywhere if you’re in the right mood – smeared and sinking in, soaking down your throat in squelchy treacle massed form, or chewy with surprisingly tart bits if honeycombed. Bees are supposedly not aerodynamic – or are they? They do fly, and they are so soft and sweet. Its so sad when you see one lying prone on the path, its little life all spent out and already forgotten. Who remembers bees? Who remembers wasps? Both sting, and only their badness is remembered – people getting injections for anaphylactic shock; people swelling. Cows twitching their ears when bees crawl in; those horror stories you hear about eggs getting laid deep in folds, and moving under downy haired skin – in children, in small and large animals. An X Files of a case, where the eggs mutate…
Then there’s honey on skin, in love, and licking off. Honey on chins of children, on chin of Annabel, who seems so earthy in her posh little mantle – a good heart in a young and energetic body, slinking through the office, self possessed and happy in herself, letting it all flow.
Honey in the fridge at home – chilled honeycomb that we chewed expecting wonders and found it cold and uninviting, bits sticking waxily in our teeth. Neither of us would admit this was not the honey we wanted. It sat still, prone, in the back of the fridge, getting covered with other things, and pushed back further and further, until I threw it out two weeks ago. It was ladled over with sadness – not the honey we wanted.
Not a fabled, glinting, dripping honey of taste erotica that adverts lead us to believe is there. Glinting, shining, and sugared in sunlight in a backdrop of fields and heavy dewed hedgerows. Where birds, young and strong, with those fast beating hearts, flit and dive, calling their health and place in the world, in the order of things that are, to us. And the honey we taste, is it – us eating nature, eating our Mother, and taking her in with the power of blackberries, of apples off trees, with the power of love and nurture? The strength of wind, and the fear of hurricane. That dread and the power of all that we cannot control. In a small way, we take all this in, when we swallow down honey, soothing the throat. Soothing the mind.
Swings in the park
When I was small, my mother took me to the swings in Victoria Park, but I don’t remember this. I only remember when Fry was small, taking him.
Hyde Park, and lots of mothers who were very well dressed; lots of nannies who were sometimes as well dressed, but had the stooped bearing of boredom. And me. Sometimes it was so cold, and I sat there waiting, my fingers freezing. I don’t remember much of actually pushing him on the swings – I remember more of being determined not to lose him in the mass of children. I remember him being in the sand pit, happy and determined to dig deep holes. Not playing really with the other children. Remaining quiet and only talking to me. The magic of Fry small, walking strongly into the wind, unafraid, stubborn, little hands in fists, literally bent forward with the power of wind.
Swings, archetypal swings – shot from a low angle – are they glinting in sunlight, in a manicured play area, or are they set in a moody grey sky, rusted and creaking ominously in a wind that also shifts litter?
Are the children on them smiling joyfully (mouths encrusted with honey, as their childhoods are so sweet), or are they smiling too widely, a slight distortion, their eyes shining but flat and black, pupils too wide? Is it the playground of innocence, where you swing for joy at life and height and the wind in your hair? Or the playground you never escape from, never go home to get tea, as you have been chained inside and you can rattle as much as you want but it won’t make any difference really, any at all…no one will hear, except the children, and you don’t want to attract their attention, they are small killers, moving their heads like pistons trained in your direction when they hear a noise. Movement alerted, like robot sentinels.
This is Kew, at my anniversary with one year of Stanley and I living together. This was a cold February Sunday, where we wore gloves, and when I held his hand I put my thumb inside to keep it warmer. I had my hand in his pocket. I felt safe as a child, and wanted as a honeypot. We wandered from room to inside room. He fascinated with orchids, me stunned at the vivid colours. Climbing white painted iron stairs, ornate and Victorian.
This is me with my mother at various gardens through Sussex, wandering softly and gently. Through Michelham Priory, me dreaming of this being MY house – it feels like my house, my grounds. When I go into the house, to the haunted room, it feels like my bedroom, my study. I am sure I was there before, I just don’t know when before. But there were less people. When I wandered in the herb garden, I remember my yearnings; I read all the herb labels and never remember them properly. I can’t spell out the names for atmosphere, because they flow through my head like mist and are gone. I see myself working with pestle and mortar and grinding the life force from the herbs and putting them in base creams – boiling the roots and distilling essence for bottling with alcohol – sage cough mixture – with honey to sweeten and take off the gloaming of the alcohol. St John’s Wort cream, pennyroyal lotion, wintergreen for aching muscles. Even saying the names makes me close to earth.
In my head there is a garden, on one side high walled, so only me and those I choose can come in – a secret garden. On the other, it reaches out, leading to meadows. I see myself there constantly. I lie in the meadows, and feel daisies and little alpine grasses beneath me – I feel camomile. Here it is always warm and summer. I wait for my lover, for my friend, for a wolf or a cat or a deer. I wait for a sign, but need none, as I am whole, lying in the embrace of the mother, she surrounds me, with the father blanketing me from above. Robin Hood is away to the left, down a steepish hill. He has his own forest he lives in. There he roams, he and the others, they fight their battles; they sing their songs. We are friends and he aids me if I need him, he hears me if I call. He sends Herne or another…
Mine is green, a strange soft luminous green, not the first colour I would have picked, but there it is, soft and luminous, sitting beside me on the desk. I type away and it rests there, heavy with potential. Potential jobs, potential love messages, potential arrangements, potential news, good or bad.
It waits, it is neutral. I regard it often with fear, or with irritation. When the call or text I am expecting does not come, I put it away in sadness. I feel rejected, the messenger is hidden.
Stanley’s is a little computer, practically a Blackberry, but not quite. He leaves it resting face down, always. He forgets where it is; I have to call him so he can find it. He forgets to carry it or have it charged, even when he’s waiting for job interviews, or results of these. He has a picture of cybermen as his wallpaper, cybermen in the snow. Its vague and pretty and cold cold cold. I don’t think he ever waits for his; it sits where it sits and he gets on with his life.
Mine and I are in a love-worry relationship – as I never blame the phone for the lack of calls, after all, it glows greenly, how can I? But I look at it, like I do my emails, with a despair sometimes that stretches before me deep and bleak.
Other times, its messages can completely change my mood for the better. It is a small green catalyst, a mood altering stuff.
It connects me to Fry far far away.