I get to the till before him. He is off somewhere searching for baked beans. She is happy to wait for him, her hands poised over the cornflakes packet, ready to start scanning when he appears. Do you still see you friend? I ask, feeling obliged to make conversation. Would she rather I kept quiet? Would she rather be silent? Does she want to share her life with us? No, she replies, it was over some weeks ago. I express sadness. Oh, it’s OK, she says, I ended it. Her voice still carries a touch of Birmingham. I got to the stage, she continues, when I thought there’s no excitement. I nod. When I told him, she said, all he could say ‘well, that’s your prerogative’.
It was wet and stormy this morning. The rain like pricking needles against my face. I move into it. I accept it, feeling the discomfort but also the warmth within. It is so alive, the wind. I lean into it, like a tree, bending to its will. I cannot resent it. It isn’t personal. It is just weather. Yesterday it was all moon. A super moon, they called it. Big, white, an oversized circle of power. The rocks were lit silver by it. No need for a torch. This morning it was just black. No one about. Last week, the students frolicked. A man in a dress and a blonde wig. Another dressed as a Tequila Bottle. A fantastic costume, with an intricately embroidered label down the front. I saw the red lid on his head first. In the dark it was hard to make out, the realisation came slowly. He was sitting on some steps with his friends. The night was over. He’d forgotten he was dressed in fancy dress. His feet were splayed, I think he was rolling a cigarette.
Later, I saw two magpies, then another.
The sky is a cerulean blue. The wind follows him in.
Yesterday the poet did two sessions, one for Front Row and the other for BBC Scotland. She is gracious. She uses my name. I like your tunic, she says. Her voice is husky. She is full of enthusiasm for the book. The other poet is in London or is it Salford? They greet each other down the line. The other poet has a cold. I listen to her reading a poem by Rose Macaulay, my head up close to the speaker. He is right, it is like the Seamus Heaney poem.
It is always good to get home. I can breathe then. Why do I find the company of people such a challenge when there is so much good will? I am solitary. So be it.
Poetry. Sunday and I am immersed. Chopping sprouts, preparing porridge, soup and fruit listening to a programme about Ezra Pound. A Scots sounding voice and yet he was an American, born in Idaho, I believe. They kept him in a cage with no shelter from the Italian sun. Then he was incarcerated in a mental institution. He has fallen out of favour with the Brits, says the presenter He’d gone to Italy to ‘find him’. The Cantos, impenetrable. I tried to read some once. I found them in the Library. I like his Imagist poems. Small, concise, a tremendous condensing of sensation. I felt a sadness listening to his fate. He returned to Italy. Was it for the sun?
Will we ever return to Italy?
For now I am here and happy to be so. In love. In love with the dark harbour with its cacophony of rattling rigging, made noisome by the stink of landed lobster pots. I walk, eyes closed into the wind, missing the Perygyl. Alas, too wet, too wet today. The black of winter beckons. So be it.