The Door

June 18, 2017

The door swings open,
you look in.
It’s dark in there,
most likely spiders:
nothing you want.
You feel scared.
The door swings closed.

The full moon shines,
it’s full of delicious juice;
you buy a purse,
the dance is nice.
The door opens
And swings closed so quickly
you don’t notice.

The sun comes out,
you have swift breakfasts
with your husband, who is still thin;
you wash the dishes,
you love your children,
you read a book,
you go to the movies.
It rains moderately.

The door swings open,
you look in:
why does this keep happening now?
Is there a secret?
The door swings closed.

The snow falls,
you clear the walk while breathing heavily;
it’s not as easy as once.
Your children telephone sometimes.
The roof needs fixing.
You keep yourself busy.
The spring arrives.

The door swings open:
it’s dark in there,
with many steps going down.
But what is that shining?
Is it water?
The door swings closed.

The dog has died.
This happened before.
You got another; not this time though.

Where is your husband?
You gave up the garden.
It became too much.
At night there are blankets;
nonetheless you are wakeful.

The door swings open:
O god of hinges,
god of long voyages,
you have kept faith.
It’s dark in there.
You confide yourself to the darkness
You step in.
The door swings closed.

Margaret Atwood

17th June

Love suffers no natural death. It dies because we take it for granted. It dies of blindness and mistakes and betrayals. It dies of self-inflicted wounds, of exhaustion, of lack of imagination. It dies because we lose sight of its source and importance.

#

Does Theresa May(be) have any principals at all, I wonder? A difficult question to answer given her behavior before, during and since the general election campaign. Don’t get me wrong, it’s simply grand to see a woman in the roll of Prime Minister (the US electorate faced with the choice of a female President or a buffoon, elected the buffoon!), but our Mrs May(be) seems totally absorbed by her own personal ambition. As Home Secretary she weathered a string of Passport Office and border control fiascos; she pledged to reduce net migration into the UK by tens of thousands but failed to do so. Close colleagues described her as “very closed, very controlling, very untrusting” when she was Home Secretary. As Prime Minister she hasn’t changed. She is the Tin Woman in search of a heart. Evasive, deliberately vague on the major issues, seemingly lacking in empathy; everything about her is ‘smoke & mirrors’! And Friday’s interview on Newsnight was another exercise in failing to give a single straight answer on the Grenfell Tower disaster.

Scar

June 5, 2017

runs from the middle
of my head, splits
into different paths
on my forehead where
so much of the work
of piecing together occurred.
I was a grown woman
with both my parents
around me as if I was
a child again as the doctor
worked post-car crash
sewing and knotting
and picking out turf and
ground from where
I met the ground
as if to root there.
There it is – a path
I can trace my fingers on
now that I am without them –
top to side to side to bottom –
as if the journey
is finished and I am old.

Gigi Marks

Of all mortal things none has birth, nor any end in accursed death, but only mingling and interchange of what is mingled – birth is the name given to these by men…Fools, since they think that what they did before did not exist comes into being, or that a thing dies and is completely destroyed…For it is impossible for anything to come to be from what is not, and it cannot be brought about or heard of that what is should be utterly destroyed; for wherever one may ever set it, there indeed it will always be.

Empodocles of Acragas

The girl who died

April 9, 2017

You are twenty. You are not dead, although you were dead. The girl who died. And was resurrected. Children. Witches. Magic. Symbols. Remember the illogic of the fantasy.

Sylvia Plath
The Unabridged Journals of Sylvia Plath

ours are visions

April 3, 2017

Diary 3rd April

I met an old friend at the railway station a couple of years ago. I hadn’t seen him for a long time, and was shocked by how much he’d aged. I suppose I’d retained this mental image of him at age eighteen (of us both, in fact)? We’d been at school together. Close friends. But now, abruptly, we were two very different people.

Sometime after this, I encountered his older sister Christine in the street. It was on one of my then frequent visits to London. She’d metamorphosed from a slinky beauty to a dumpy duplicate of her mother. She looked so very careworn. I couldn’t help wondering what she saw when she looked at me?

Our faces contain as much of farce as of tragedy, or so it seems.

Christine, once vivacious and charming, had become sluggish and contemplative – nothing like the girl who’d allowed my hand beneath her pleated skirt and into her knickers.

Ah, all these breathless faces from the past belong in some old picture book, not here. We’re all racing towards the discourtesy of death, and should know better than to recall vulnerable girlish sighs from half a lifetime ago.

#

We are the golden men, who shall the people save:
For only ours are visions, perfect and divine.
For we alone are drunken of the last, best wine;
And very Truth our souls hath flooded, wave on wave.

(Lionel Johnson, Munster: AD 1534)

Does anyone read Johnson nowadays? I s’pose there’s one or two: the odd, geriatric Fenian, perhaps?

Ezra Pound described him as “a traditionalist of traditionalists”. Oxford scholar, Catholic, member of the Irish Literary Society, and the Rhymers’ Club, Johnson enjoyed a drink – but then who doesn’t? He was interestingly eccentric.

#

For Plato knowledge was the soul recollecting its previous incarnations. Plato and Jung have much in common, especially archetypes and the collective unconscious.

Hill of the Magic Hare

March 8, 2017

I came across it unawares,
Still, dark sides a footfall away,
Flattened in the summer grasses.
At first I believed it dead
And walked past, face averted.
But something about the form,
Like, yet unlike a rabbit
Took me back to gaze into
A yellow eye, wild yet wise,
Before she took flight.

And afterwards I imagined life
In all the dead things I chanced upon.
Things of flesh, and bone and shell.

Nell Grey

(from Obsessed with Pipework)

Did This Ever Happen to You

February 26, 2017

vitaly-istomin-spring

A marble-coloured cloud
engulfed the sun and stalled,

a skinny squirrel limped toward me
as I crossed the empty park

and froze, the last
or next to last

fall leaf fell but before it touched
the earth, with shocking clarity

I heard my mother’s voice
pronounce my name. And in an instant I passed

beyond sorrow and terror, and was carried up
into the imageless

bright darkness
I came from

and am. Nobody’s
stronger than forgiveness.

Franz Wright

pass-the-candle

White lilies pressed against the nudity of my bosom. I offer white lilies to what hurts me in you. For we are beings who lack. This because certain things – if they are not given – wilt. For example, the lilies’ petals would burn against the warmth of my body. I call the light breeze for my future death. I will have to die, otherwise my petals will burn. This is why I give myself up to death every day. I die and I am born again. Moreover, I have already died from the death of others. But now I am dying from drunkenness of life. And I bless the warmth of the living body that wilts white lilies.

Hélène Cixous
Three Steps on the Ladder to Writing
(trans. Sarah Cornell & Susan Sellers)

Without stick or sword

January 15, 2017

rose-freymuth-frazier-hounded

Diary 15th January

Returned yesterday from a small soirée at Goodrington Sands. It is a dog owners paradise, and most of the population seemed to be engaged in walking their dogs along the beach or promenade.

We arrived there Friday lunchtime and had a boozy lunch followed by a long walk along the beach. The wind was bitterly cold.

S, almost in tears, fears her cat may die soon; it has been very ill, and she has spent a small fortune on vets bills – but, despite every test known to man, the vets are unable to determine exactly what is wrong with the animal. They are perplexed.

S is also concerned her father will not see out this year. Hopefully she is wrong on both counts!

More booze follows.

Twilight then night, with its brood of phantoms that walk the world as sentient things. Muttered “Hullo’s”. Glimpses of the strange, profound and baffling. Circling faces and disembodied voices.

A woman, mid-fifties(?), fleshy and flashy, tells me she has a complete school uniform at home: gym-slip, white socks and big sensible navy-blue knickers. ‘You should come see me in it,’ she says. ‘A weekday’s best for me. I even have a satchel containing crayons and drawing pad.’ She passes me a slip of paper on which is written a phone number and address. ‘I play an adorable little virgin, so innocent – you can corrupt and debauch me in whatever way you desire!’

Time passing. Grotesqueries of light and shadow. The people here are all affluent, bored, over-sexed – almost parodies of themselves. Women with strange secrets in their drowsy eyes. Men, faces flushed with lust, join in the never ending dance.

A woman’s face above me: shadowy eyes, a bright red mouth, and nostrils like dark wells. There are wrinkles at the edges of her mouth and her tongue seems huge inside my mouth. Her cheeks flush scarlet and her eyes glow like little lanterns when her climax engulfs her.

A man’s whispering, Mephistophelian voice at my ear. He offers his wife, a plump forty-something, who spreads her legs to my passionless gaze. He tells me in explicit, vivid detail what he would like to see me do to her.

I comply with each of his shocking instructions.

When she cums it is like a cataclysm.

And then, in another room, another much younger woman. Incredibly vivid. Incredibly flexible. Intense and demanding in each of her movements. The surging of blood to her face, lost in pure physical sensation, and the tingling of nerve endings. The quickening of her breath and spastic motion of hip and thigh…

Finally to bed like an impotent old giant.

Unfortunately, I sleep badly. Doze and wake disoriented in my strange surroundings. Dee snoring gently beside me.

As if to reinforce the surreal experiences of the preceding evening, I watch the breakfast news on BBC. A doctor in an A&E department explains to the camera that he has no beds available. No trolleys left, either. Ambulances are backed up on the A&E ramp outside. The patients cannot be removed from the ambulances, there is nowhere to put them. Consequently, the ambulances are unable to respond to any further calls for assistance.

It’s a mess!

A crises!

Then, amazingly, the Queen of Brobdingnag, Terresa Maybe appears on screen in a different report. The problems, she explains, the NHS is currently experiencing is due in part to GPs not working evenings or weekends!

Luggnagg meets Brobdingnag.

I think I shall relocate to the land of the Houyhnhnms. It’s feckin’ safer.

After breakfast we say our goodbyes to S and her man. Drive then into Brixham. Dee wants to see the place again, a nostalgia trip. She’d last visited in her teens with AN, a girls only camping holiday…very Sapphic, I’m sure (only kidding girls).

Dee tells of the transvestite artist they met there beside the harbour. An older guy. Diabetic, with an ulcerated leg. He invited them both back to his ‘artist’s garret’ to show them his collection of clothes. He asked the girls to try them on, which they did. He sketched away like mad as they shamelessly stripped and dressed in his offered finery. An intimate, almost immemorially pagan scene.

Then he asked AN if he could try on the top she’d been wearing. She agreed, but the top was far too small and his attempts ended in seem-stretching failure.

He explained his leg was ‘killing’ him and had to sit down. AN, very kindly, changed the dressing on his leg for him…

Dee and I sat outside a café in bright sunshine. The weather was totally different from yesterday’s. We’d left Cornwall in snow flurries. And now, sitting looking out across the harbour, I could feel the sun burning my face!

Incredible!

Dee said, ‘What a glorious sunshiny day! We’ve been so lucky.’

Finally, we drove home. I felt very second-hand to be honest. Slightly hungover and jaded. Cooking a meal last night for Dee and L, I was really running on empty. I managed a glass of wine, for myself, followed by a large brandy, but no food. I went to bed at eight-thirty and fell immediately fast asleep.

Uneasy dreams followed. They always do. Gigantic shadows of men and women entwining. Faces glowing scarlet-red with excitement. Ephemeral rooms, scattered with cushions. Laughter, gently mocking. Becoming harsher –

Then waking, thankfully, to this sombre dawn.

A new day begins –