Sunday, March 11, 2007
We sit on the bank. It feels like spring has come and is spiralling into summer. My feet are twitching in the heat, his eyes are melting. The sky is the bluest it has been since winter came.
Downhill, the graves perch up against each other. Chimney stacks form a fortress above a blue haze of rooves and painted walls. If you scrape back the turf, you can find the names of the dead.
I am unnameably happy. But I sit here crying in the grass with my soft-haired lover, because I don't understand what I feel. And I know that somewhere behind me in this graveyard is the cherry blossom tree that I once stood under, where, a long time ago, I named my love for another man and I meant it forever. He disappeared with the petals that blew on our faces from the branches, and he had a son.
And his son was named after a saint, and now this saint stares back at me from these church walls, a seer and a poet. And this name lives in my own, buried between my forename and my surname, as it is buried in the walls where I grew up, between the winding hedge of our garden and a Convent's vegetable patch.
Poor Clare's, nuns with their recorders, giggling in the garden, their Crosses tied at the waist of their dark brown habits, glinting in the sunlight. They sent poems to me over the wall and I stuck them above my bed. At night I would pray to them.
But I also remember the dark evenings when God was an evil eye watching all the time. I remember turning to the left-side so I could seek out the Devil. I felt him on my back all the time, as soon as the sun went down.
That was when I was younger. An atheist by eleven, I started to scorn the nuns and their silly smocks, their locked up world. I would never give myself up to a man like that. I loved Sylvia Plath and The Women's Room. Then, at thirteen, mixed up teenager, I came across Buddhism, experienced a flash of insight, some kind of breakdown and a resurrection and the feeling never went away.
I remember searching even then, through the curtainless window, past the dark, long, empty garden, into nothing. I remember how it felt to want wings and to fly at night when no one was looking. And to fall, back on the hard carpetted floor, when the sun came up in a voidless sky.
I look now to four solid walls of stone, and a cup of wine. I am too much of a Catholic by temperament to become one now. Too much of a Buddhist to ever be ordained. And I love the stories of the saints, they all seem crazy; they scissored like epileptics across their beds in fits of holy abandon, and wrote, frenzied into the long dawn. They couldn't live a normal life.
I like to read about them as I like to read about Rimbaud or Baudelaire. There isn't much difference to me, there isn't a difference in any of it to me. The cup, the wine, the blood, the calling, the sex, the hunger, the deathly embrace. The space between words, the words themselves. The crucifixion. The flame of light. The empty corridor. The black bull. I can see the pattern in everything. After all, it was all born in my blood.
I look up. The angel's face is covered by branches, and they look like flames.