I thought they were stars. But they were moving, circling the sky. Flashes of swirling white. It took me a moment to make sense of it. They’re not stars but gulls. Was it the wind that was taking them up so high and impelling them to eddy about? The wind was strong – not 40 miles an hour as promised, as least not then, perhaps it is now. I endured it for a while but I get so weary with clinging to railings and walls – so I made my way through the town instead. Just to be out of it. Out of the wind.

I finished Isabel Allende’s Paula. Later I lay in bed thinking about the strength of her love for her daughter, her reluctance to let her go. Do most mothers love like that? So primal, so complete. I am awed by the power of it, chastened too. I feel so much more detached than she. Is it cultural, perhaps? All of them were there, who could be, when Paula finally died. Sitting, a silent vigil for the passing of a soul, the leaving behind of the body. Allende writes of how grief cancels out, rids, bleaches the mind of creativity. All she could do was sit, be, walk. ‘What will happen’, she writes, ‘with this great empty space that am today?’ What will fill me now that not a whiff of ambition remains, no project, nothing of myself?

I remembered the ending of a dream from a few nights back. I was with a friend and her husband. Not in their house, I think. Perhaps we were all travelling, in a hotel possibly. Anyway they’d receivedĀ a gift in the post, post restante, possibly. It had been a piece, a slice of tiramisu. Had, because it had been eaten. All that remained were the chocolate and cream stains inside the envelope. For it had been sent in an envelope.

I wanted to be kind, to make up for my sulkiness, my nursing of grievances last night. And I blew it, was too touchy. If you push too hard for harmony it becomes elusive. Just let it come, when it is ready.

By Ellen Bell

Artist and writer currently living in Aberystwyth.