Homesick

January 11, 2020

When we love, when we tell ourselves we do,
we are pining for first love, somewhen,
before we thought of wanting it. When we rearrange
the room we end up living in, we are looking
for first light, the arrangement of light,
that time, before we knew to call it light.

Or talk of music, when we say
we cannot talk of it, but play again
C major, A flat minor, we are straining
for first sound, what we heard once,
then, in lost chords, wordless languages.

What country do we come from? This one?
The one where the sun burns
when we have night? The one
the moon chills; elsewhere, possible?

Why is our love imperfect,
music only echo of itself,
the light wrong?

We scratch in dust with sticks,
dying of homesickness
for when, where, what.

Carol Ann Duffy

This church felt wrong. I do not say this lightly. Dealers are undertakers of a sort. When a man dies, the undertaker comes for his body, and quite often the dealer comes for the rest. How often I have been left alone to break up the home a man has built up over fifty years, and sell the pieces where I can. As I break up the home, I know the man. I have known a cracked teapot yield enough evidence of adultery to satisfy ten divorce-court judges. I learn that he was mean from his boots; that trapped for ever inside the sepia photographs are seven of his children. From his diary, that he believed in God or the Devil or Carter’s Little Liver Pills. I deal in dead men’s clocks, pipes, swords and velvet breeches. And passing through my hands, they give off joy and loneliness, fear and optimism. I have known more evil in a set of false teeth than in any so-called haunted house in England.

….I couldn’t keep still in that place. It wasn’t just the cold. I thought I’d come prepared for that, with a quilted anorak and three sweaters. No, I kept having, not delusions, not even fears, but odd little anxieties . . . preoccupations. I had the conviction the walls weren’t vertical . . . or was it the floor, that seemed to slope down towards the middle of the nave? Certainly the floor was hollow; no one could walk on it and listen to the echo of his footsteps without realizing that. Then . . . the windows didn’t seem to be letting in as much light as they should. I kept going outside to check if the sky was getting cloudy, but it was still bright and sunny, thank God, and I went back feeling the better for it.

Then I stared at the cross in a side-chapel. It just looked like two bits of wood nailed together. I mean, it was just two bits of wood nailed together; but though I’m not a religious sort, I tend to see any cross as a bit more than two bits of wood nailed together.

And that smell. Or niff, as Henry would have it. It wasn’t strong, but it was everywhere; you never got it out of your nostrils. The only thing I can liken it to was when I got in a new lavatory-bowl at the shop; it had to be left for the sealant to dry overnight, so the builder stuffed wet paper down the hole, but the biting black smell of the sewer filled my shop and dreams all night.

Robert Westall
The Last Day of Miss Dorinda Molyneaux

guardian shrouds of shadow

January 11, 2020

Most horrible of all sights are the little unpainted wooden houses remote from travelled ways, usually squatted upon some damp, grassy slope or leaning against some gigantic outcropping of rock. Two hundred years and more they have leaned or squatted there, while the vines have crawled and the trees have swelled and spread. They are almost hidden now in lawless luxuriances of green and guardian shrouds of shadow; but the small-paned windows still stare shockingly, as if blinking through a lethal stupor which wards off madness by dulling the memory of unutterable things.

H P Lovecraft
The Picture in the House

arousing a reader sexually

January 11, 2020

Though the novel (The Story of O) is clearly obscene by the usual standards and more effective than many in arousing a reader sexually, sexual arousal doesn’t appear to be the sole function of the situations portrayed. The narrative does have a definite beginning, middle, and end. The elegance of the writing hardly gives the impression that its author considered language a bothersome necessity. Further, the characters do possess emotions of a very intense kind, although obsessional and indeed wholly asocial ones; characters do have motives, though they are not psychiatrically or socially ‘normal’ motives.

Susan Sontag
The Pornographic Imagination

sat together side by side

January 11, 2020

Her lover one day takes O for a walk in a section of the city where they never go – the Monceau Park. After they have taken a stroll in the park and have sat together side by side on the edge of a lawn, they notice, at one corner of the park, at an intersection where there are never any taxis, a car which, because of its meter, resembles a taxi.

“Get in,” he says.

She gets in.

Pauline Réage
The Story of O

Yesterday

Very cold early this morning. Liquid darkness around me with no glimpse of moon or stars. Here on the moor you feel you’ve stepped off the edge of the world, into the ancient Babylonians’ seven outer regions, complete with magic and monsters.

Turning, turning as a flat shadow, haunted by the ghost of faded summer. S’pose you complete one more turn and vanish…?

Thoughts of summer and secluded, almost secret beaches where we’ve made love. Hidden in small rocky coves along the north coast. Your skin turning to gold in the sun – tasted salty as you dissolved. And with the arrival of sunset the shores would grow dark and echo the roar of the waves.

Last night

A Wolf Moon – its delicate, misted corona like a weird vision before eclipse. A bright ghost in the night sky, summoning disciples to dance skyclad for the Goddess across the moor.