A form of pentameter, he said, before adding, umm, yummy eggs.
We were having supper and doing The Times crossword and I got completely the wrong end of the stick. Is it some form of geometric shape? I asked. I felt so foolish. No, its poetry, he said. Iambic, I said straight away. How can I be so stupid? Is it mouth engaging before brain? I never truly believe that poetry is for me, even after the MA, until I hear it read, then it belongs to me and I belong to it. Absolutely. Without question.
It’s the rules that freak me out. I am awed by them. I am with all forms of creativity. You must do this, you must do that. I’m a Johnny-come-lately, a mountebank, a fraudster, a charlatan with all things creative – I take shortcuts, reinvent the wheel and all those other clichés. I cannot follow. Ever. I love poetry’s succinctness. Its condensing of emotion. Making breakfast, Rick Stein came on the radio guest-hosting a programme called With Great Pleasure where the guests chose a series of their favourite readings. He chose a Ted Hughes poem, I believe it was from Birthday Letters. It was from the period of time that Hughes and Plath lived together in Devon. It was just one line, so simple in its construction and syntax (is that the right word? – you see) – ‘people stare at you in wet shops’. Just exquisite. That use of the word ‘wet’. People sheltering in there out of the rain, the fetidness, the steam on the windows and this remarkable blonde-haired American, shining like a beacon, a candle to the moths. And I am to go to his house. To stay there. What a gift.
I’ve been cracking jokes all night, he said. He was a young man standing with a group of friends outside The Pier Pressure nightclub. He was tall, straight-backed and well-spoken. I’d noticed his red cloth baseball boots first – new and clean. His hands gesticulated as he spoke. I’ve been cracking jokes all night, he repeated, just to get my message across. What message? I don’t know. I’d walked by by then. Cracking jokes sounded such an old-fashioned turn of phrase.
I’ve been cracking eggs too. I did it with gusto, I said to him. Yummy, he said. They’re perfect.
The sun on the trees last night was stunning. A yellowy orange, like an egg yolk, a burning that lit up the bank outside my window. Come and see, he called from the hall, wanting me to see the flash of sun on the hill. But I’d already got into bed. Too late.
I walked up and over the Buarth on my way home. No bakeries open this morning. No smell of hot bread. A cat trotted towards me in the gloom.
I dreamt that I had four warts on my middle finger or was it my ring finger. A chemist did give me something for it. She was confident that they would go. But I had to wait before I could take it. Various internet interpretation sites offer different explanations. One said it was about the loss of personal honour, another said it heralded difficulties and another said it meant money was coming. Who knows? Isn’t it just fear?
I am racked with it today. Nameless, rootless fear. My back is rigid.
Now for the Big Sleep, said my sister in my dream handing me a small brown paper bag. Did I open it? I think it contained a bottle with a syringe. Prior to that she’d played me an audio of what she listened to to get to sleep.
Why is she such a challenge to me? Is it her confidence, her bright shiny newness? I am so full of uncertainty. Over everything, big and small. I am a wobbling jellyfish, formless, always shifting, changing with the tide and at times highly poisonous. Or so it feels. I want to be kind, to be good, but sometimes I just cannot do it. I seek certainty, completeness, endings and a sense of something solid. This is right, this is me, this is meant. All the while knowing that such things are illusory. Nothing stands still. Nothing. And yet, I long for it.
Bless those the wave has taken. I hope it was swift, no time to fear, to drown, just gone. Without pain now. Lifted. Spirited. Away.
Fergal Keane’s piece for Our Own Correspondent yesterday was beautiful. Ah, the radio. It is a joy to me.
Will I make them today?