Lists #10

Paper boats - mass

Some days I chase my tail. I cannot find the time to do it all. Such days are my list-days. That’s all I can do, write lists on odd scraps of paper and torn post-it notes: learn to play the piano, walk a marathon, read the instructions for my camera, paint the balustrade, re-listen to the programme about Charlotte Bronte’s letters and the new biography of her life, wash dressing gown, make soup, call bank.

I have to do the same here, on this page. Instructions. Write about: newspaper front pages, bearing witness to the pain of others, mass killings and the death of a lonely old man (not missed for two weeks until a neighbour pushed open the letter-box and smelt the decaying stink of him), the homeless boy sleeping outside Costa Coffee, Colin in Morrison’s, his long, gentle fingers pushing my apples into a bag I didn’t want, grumpiness towards my neighbour after a long journey, ‘do I look like a shopper?’, sharpness towards a waitress when she brings me food I don’t want and mendings, neat metal stitches.

Soon. A week of writing. Breathe. The air this morning smelt of fields. Later of newly-mown grass. Something like bliss. Can it be? Can there be bliss against such pain? There is, there must be. A silver-lining she calls it. The cancer, contained and removed. She is happy again. A daughter safe. Something like hope. Something like forgiveness.



By Ellen Bell

Artist and writer currently living in Aberystwyth.