Sunday, October 17, 2010

The Coming of December



It’s almost November. Soon the season will turn to grief, as it does every year. This year it will be more so. December used to be the one winter month I actually liked, now it's diseased with bad memories – fluttering snow, a chilled top deck of a Greenwich bus, that phone call. And for all I’ve achieved this year despite ill health, despite the hard times, I regret my failure to deal with what happened last December, with the loss that was not my loss; that belonged to someone else I love deeply. Because of this, I never worked out quite how to get over it myself.
     A hot bath can work wonders: it is immersion, solace; a bone-soother. Tonight I emerged from the water revived, but sad, and desperate for a cuddle. I dried myself and came to this portable computer, to these awkward, tiny keys, not knowing what to say, as has become usual these last weeks. I feel apart from the world. I have no peace, love and understanding with which to package up its evils into pretty, bowed, gift sized pieces. Years ago, I had ideals. Now, the bodies pile up. 

     I loved the snowfall last December, even during the funeral - it cast a white dream over everything. Yes, I tell myself it could all have been a dream. But I remember the blossom tree from the morgue toilet window - flakes falling in front of it like television static. Footprints covered over as soon as they were made.

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Bring Out Your Dead!



For weeks now I’ve had hulking great ‘writer’s block’. Each morning has been the same: my fingers hover over my keyboard, sentences in my head unraveling themselves, the passion in my belly shrinking to nothing. No metaphors spring from the black pit of my brain. No imagery dances across my tired eyes. I am null and void. Kaput. Bring out your dead! I want to shout from my living room window. I find it hard to believe I’ll ever write another good sentence again, or that I ever did. Words clunk into each other, and so I press DELETE over and again, unpicking all I thought I wanted to say. I'm presented with a blank page, an unscratchable itch. A life without writing.
     Where once was bustle, voices, movement, now is shadow and an eerie quiet. It’s been great for getting on with the rest of life – I’ve mended two record players, been prompt with my recycling and even caught up on hula hooping. I’ve earned money. But the silence is disturbing. I think of those Chilean miners after the tunnel had collapsed, seven hundred metres under solid ground; I imagine them staring through torchlight at impenetrable walls. They survived on so little sustenance, but more, they survived that deathly quiet. They kept themselves going by making enough noise to drown it out - the silence that encircled them like a noose. They sang, prayed, talked; they planned, and laughed.
     Oh, to have such guts. Today the sky outside my window is heavy, as though it’s propped up by the two TV aerials on the roof of the house opposite. Someone told me the other day that in dreams we cast no shadow, that the unconscious is self-illuminating. So I slap my hand to see if I’m really awake. Or if I’m merely sleepwalking through my days: mornings spent in a cheap dressing gown, pressing fingers against a hot, stained teacup hoping it will stir my unconscious voice into life. A world without words is an easier place, but also a colder one. I take a sip of tea, stare down into the white hole of my computer screen - and freeze.