I am sitting here, dawn just coming up through the theatre of Philippe’s field at the back of the house, and the new kitten who has come to stay – permanently it seems – rubbing around my legs and climbing on my shoulders. She is Lullaby Lou, whose everyday name is Lulu and who has appeared, without invitation, but already seems to be totally at home. She accompanies Phil as he gardens and makes walls in the last of the sunshine.
It is early morning – I have not adjusted yet to the ‘gained’ hour – it just jolts me awake at 5 a.m. and I spend the rest of the day falling asleep in odd places. Exciting things have happened – although the tiny scope of our little place in Normandy – referred to by our French neighbours as le chateau on account of the extensive concrete projects that Phil has been engaged in over the summer, makes them small endeavours. Mimi Khalvati arrived in the post – her new book ‘The Weather Wheel’ has been eagerly anticipated. I have read some of the sequences in PN News and Long Poem and knew it was going to be a wonderful book. A waterfall of language it will take a lot of standing under to fully appreciate it but already the resonances are in my head. Then the new Poetry London has a wonderful introduction (for me) to Caroline Forche – exciting stuff and starts with poems from CK Williams containing what I think might be my favourite quote of the moment:
‘Sun, can you hear my teeth grinding? Can you hear my dried-out battered brain,
my already broken down thought –thing rattling like a bean in a gourd down a hill in a hailstorm?’
I am currently in the condition of someone slowly rising to the surface after a fairly long session of being lost under water. Dealing with physical deterioration and pain has been salutary but hard and the edges of life erode for a time. It is a struggle to come back. On the way though there have been significant things that have helped and I don’t want to forget them now that I am feeling more normal.
Thankfulness for small things: its clichéd but the sun rising, stars in the night sky, the way the flowers have kept going and are still shaking their petals against the wind, the pumpkins and squashes in a long line drying on the wall, reflecting the sun on their leathery skins. I have had to slow down and now it can take a whole morning, like yesterday, to make soup and salad for friends for lunch but I savour the slow moment, relish the colours and smells, the smoothness and the bumpiness of garden soup and the crinkle of the last red and green lettuces of the season. I vacuum and clean slowly and with enjoyment, when the mood takes me I can iron all the creases out of the sun and wind-smelling clothes and iron tension out of myself at the same time. I guess I’m saying that when you think you have lost the facility of being free and moving with the motion of the world it is wonderful to come back to things fresh and grateful.
I have finished my space novel for children and sent it off to the Chicken House competition; not really in hopes of winning but enjoying the discipline of having to get it prepared. I am going to start on illustrations now for copies for my smaller grandchildren. I have made Christmas cake and pudding so as to approach Christmas without pressure – I had a lovely time making them!
And poetry – ah – it is beginning to flow again. I am doing a Poetry School reading course on the Mercian Hymns of Geoffrey Hill and loving the challenge of the difficult language and the circuitous route he takes us through history and biography.
I want to make changes to my blog and to start writing it regularly and to widen the group of people who might read it – but like everything else I have to be patient and approach it slowly!
Here is my poem about Lullaby Lou and Mimi Khalvati which I wrote to entertain my friend Isobel who is also recovering towards normal life again.
Reading Mimi Kalvhati in morning sun
Reading Mimi’s Weather Wheel
with Lullaby Lou purring on my knee
transported through snow, fog,
the salaam of monsoon. L.Lou sits
quiet, just an occasional squeeze of paw.
She arrived one day on the wood-pile;
when we came near she came winding,
winding. Nobody claimed her.
Calme et jolie she has anointed us
with her presence, a padding angel
in winter fur, her eyes gleam of stars.
How far? How many countries
vines, sand, cactus, countries
of love and loss, happy and woeful
how far has she come?