Sunflowers (5)

I tried to find ones that were still closed, their petals retracted like cat’s claws. They can be iffy from supermarkets, just one step up from garage flowers. They’re great hulking things. I have to use a sawing motion with the scissors in order to sever the stem. But they fill me with joy. As they did van Gogh. Dishevelled things, even in death there is beauty. And the colours are surprising, so many tones of yellow. In his paintings the backgrounds were yellow too. A real innovation at the time. It is shocking, alarming, such yellow. The yellow of hot suns, of jaundice, of fevers, of madness. I always place them in my blue jug. The blue of summer skies in Provence. I haven’t seen cornflowers this year, or indeed sweet peas. Neither last long once cut. Too precious, too fragile. And the sunflowers, how much more glorious to come up fields of them. This is joy though, this taking of the outside and bringing in. My little bit of heaven.

The sunflowers project causes me the most stress. My idea? Well my intention is to perform the sewing of a copy of van Gogh’s sunflowers in the National Gallery. You know, in front of the actual painting. I want to ape those painting students who stand with easels copying the great masters, stroke by stroke. It’s all about testing. Seeing how it feels, seeing how I feel doing it. It may not be possible. Perhaps we won’t be able to take photographs. Maybe I will feel too exposed, too foolish. But you see, the ideas come in, thick and fast, I can see them in my mind’s eye, so clearly, and I just have to see them through. But oh, the lead up. Such tension. Is this worthwhile? Is this worthy? And I am useless at counted cross stitch. I couldn’t colour in the lines as a child. Knitting patterns make me hot and bothered. I veer away, I can’t follow the rules. So it becomes my take on a pattern, an  adaptation. No one would notice, but I know. I know. It doesn’t matter, it isn’t about the product. It’s the experience of doing it. And what a realm I encounter. Hobby world. All that kitsch-ness. I baulk at it. So make a necessity out if it. Find what they say, these women, who intimidate you so much. The upholders of twee. Find out about them. Make them real. Specify. How does it make them feel? It was better yesterday. For now the critical voice has a new, stronger counterpoint.

Been listening to Edith Wharton’s Ethan Frome all week as I make breakfast. So clearly written. And the ending. Ethan and Matty on the sledge, their last rush for freedom, for the thrill of contact, of closeness. And then Matty, unable to walk, being taken in, cared for by the presumed sickly wife. The misery of being the one left behind. The tyranny of the not-quite sick. Then later I listen to Little Dorrit, and his mother, never venturing out, ruling her empire from her bedroom. Air-less, inward, despotic.

As I walk in the morning, my way is lit by the swirling, be-jewelled lines of slug mucus. They dance across the paving slabs, trailing their saliva that glints in the yellow lights of the street lights.

At 3.40 am and I pass a girl standing on the Prom with a group of friends. She holds a carton of Kentucky Fried Chicken in her hand. After each bite she sucks her fingers dry. Each finger, pushed into her mouth.

The sun is meant to shine this morning. Amen to that.