Thursday, April 24, 2014

waste not, want not

I pass back and forth through a small sheaf of concertinaed printer paper. First I ease off the edges - the long ribbons full of holes that were once deemed necessary to guide the paper through the printer. Now my roller welcomes one sheet at a time - although on most days the lines are a little skewed, but that suits my writing. I hold the bunched edges in my hand and note a fleeting thought - if we had a gerbil or a child they might have fun with these cast-offs.

Then I separate each sheet from the one before it and the one that follows. A swaying rhythm builds in me as I go. And I think of how we're still working our way through the stationary supplies that my father liberated from his eighties office job. A brown-jacket with a cardboard box under one arm - topped with the name of the woman in charge of such supplies. At least he never came home with her under his arm.

Thursday, February 13, 2014

the fingerprints of raindrops

the place where
we touch - feeling
every gust of wind

A month before their wedding day, they break up. And I can't help blaming the weather.

We are changing. Evolving. Into squinting beasts. Half-hunched and stiff of limb. One day they will look back and say, that was where it all started.

The boom of another fallen wheelie bin. Ripped up and torn, the sound of car horns and a siren.

We make hourly trade-offs - moving away from the warmer, quieter, safer core of our home. To the edges. The windows. Our rain lashed fringes. Only two sheets of glass between us and this weather. The pain. We move there because we seek even remnants of light. To read by. To write by. To be by.

this wind
now snatching the last
scraps of daylight

Friday, January 17, 2014

paved with gold

I’ve just started a new notebook – for the foreseeable future I will be bound within Leuchtturm’s Anthracite covers.  I hope the properties of the mineral seep into my writing.  I’d like it to become more compact but with a high lustre.  Starting a new notebook always makes me look back to the first thing I wrote in the last one.  My preoccupations last June were roughly as follows.

There are some holiday snaps I’m better off not seeing.  Hong Kong pet shops or restaurants included.  The fact that I can’t tell adds to the problem.  Fish in all colours, all sizes hanging in rows in plastic bags.  My eye can’t help but be delighted by the unintentional magic of it all.  But my head bursts and my heart’s flow drips to the floor.  These fish are like our ideas, our dreams – each held somewhere too small.  Too little water, too little air – no wonder they won’t survive.

Friday, June 21, 2013

sweet dreams on stony ground

She gives me many things including the name of our creeping wood sorrel (oxalis corniculata).  We have the regular sort too – but it’s this one I really love.  And now I know its name I love it even more.  Knowing the name and a bit about the nature of something allows you to know it more - you’d hardly call someone a friend if you didn’t call them by their name?  Now I know them I feel I can visit our creeping wood sorrel and see how it is doing, how it feels each day. 

Congregating along the edges and breaks in our paths it acts like a reddish green cushion.  It softens our environment – it hides our cracks by filling them.  It wants to help us forget where we are broken, to soothe our jagged places.  And to punctuate its curves with tiny perfect flowers.  Like air holes punched in a cardboard box – a way to let us breathe in our confinement.  To offer us bright ideas on dull days.  I notice that these flowers close up when there’s no sun.  Tight pinpricks of yellow across the path – just enough colour for us to believe their promise to return. 

A little reading tells me it’s an Old World plant now mostly considered a weed.  It can be eaten and bears the flavour of lemons but can be problematic in large doses.  Low-growing, it appears delicate but is known to be explosive when trying to further its cause.  All this reinforces why we get along - and that it’s sometimes known as Sleeping Beauty is even better.  

Thursday, May 16, 2013

unlikely origami

I’ve spent a few recent Mondays drinking cheap tea and making notes in a slightly sticky seafront café.  There are windows to my left and right.  I can look out to sea - and see a tide that is heaving and groaning, and like me seems to still be chewing over a recent conversation.  I can look to my right and notice one yellowed globe among all the lights.  I can look further inland and see a blue scaffolding net chopping in the wind.  I can get lost for a while in the archipelago of rust on the serviette holder and realise a phrase like that will always have far too many syllables to work in haiku!  

And then I can be surprised when a character from a haiku I wrote ten years ago walks through the door.  

you fold my face in half
and slide me under the leg
of your wobbly chair

There she is – the folded woman from my photo.  A scar stretched taut across her cheek – smoothed with flesh-coloured filler – but clear from ear to chin.  One third of her portrait tucked back on itself.  Once used to give a millimetre boost to someone who needed it.

Wednesday, May 01, 2013

circles in the sand

Sharing creative space has more benefits than drawbacks.  It allows for unexpected eddies of idea to flow back and forth across a table, across a room.  While I hold pen she holds hook or needle.  Sentences tangle across my page while woollen circles come to life in her hands.

I see the things she has made in ways other than she intended.  My writer’s eye turns them into creatures from beneath the sea - sponges and anemones.  Unlikely lichens crusting strange trees.  

I see pieces that draw in on themselves and others that sprawl, refusing to have a uniform outline.  I see ones that are dense and others that are wiling to let light through.  I realise that all of these accusations can be levelled at my writing.  The  company of her crocheted clouds keeps me warm.

Before too long my first word doily is taking shape on my page.  I turn the paper as I work.  My letters are stitches, my phrases chains.  I start off neater than I finish.  My written hand loses meaning – the words become mere wiggled lines of ink.  And in this form even my errors start to appeal.  A wonky letter or a word repeated where it shouldn’t be – my equivalent of a dropped stitch, a loose section. 

From a distance, like an overheard conversation, only the pattern vaguely recognisable – but as you draw closer, words and perhaps meaning start to take shape.

Thursday, April 04, 2013

postcards from the edge

Approaching the end of a long winter, this seaside town creaks into life.  The promenade train is running again. 

Black-head gulls walk parallel to the ripples, all heading eastwards.  Large ladies in bulky coats squeeze onto a sheltered bench.

A gull watches pigeon shadows skim across the stones.  Amid scooters and screams a boy tells his mother he has found half a mermaid’s purse.  

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

still life spring

She brings them with her, and while she is here their little bundle lays on top of the fridge and shivers from time to time, as do I.  Later we put them in the perfect vase.  Each stem falls into a fold – splayed like a gentle explosion.  They lean like they would in the wind if the wind could blow in all directions at the same time.  And today, at times, it felt like it did.

* * *

The daffodils she gave us are nearly spent.  Over the last few evenings they have started to give off a floral scent.  A faint premonition of imminent decay.  As if to remind us not to forget them before they are gone.  In all that’s going on it’s easy to overlook mere daffodils.

* * *

A week after she gave them to us her daffodils died.  On the same day she met her first child.  We replaced them with a second bunch – how quickly we grow to depend on their presence.  And these ones saw us through the snow, standing firm while our one wild one fell at the first fall.  They looked like the ones we made when we were young, when painting sections of an egg box was considered fun. 

* * *

We welcome our third one-pound bunch – twenty stems bound together like yellow-tipped green pencils.  They will be ready in a day or two to draw a small picture of spring.  We stand them in the wide-necked vase and let go.  Like a game of pick-up-sticks stalled at the start.   Like this spring, repeatedly halted by winter’s freeze-frame.

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

rope tricks

She says ‘There are so many ways to hold the rope’ and I cannot help but agree. 

Despite the fact that we’ve never been to sea even though we live at the edge of the land and count the English Channel as one of our closest friends.  Although I do remember a time I folded a paper boat and set it to sail in our birdbath.  But that’s hardly taking to the high seas. 

We’ve never flown together either – but we have sat side by side and watched a thin twig turn into a tree – we’ve done crosswords in the shade and gazed forever upwards into her leaves and let them lift us closer to the sky.

Wednesday, February 06, 2013

requiem for a stationer’s dream

I’m an addict.  Post-it notes are my drug of choice (this is not the first time I’ve had to admit to a paper-based dependence).  They feather the inside covers of every notebook.  But like most intoxicants I wonder if they are finally getting the better of me.  I wonder if the thrill of usage is being undercut by the comedown.  The realisation grows that while I clearly had a great time while using I have no recollection of the high.  Instead I am left with tattered squares covered with scribbles that strive to remind me of the ride.

I make these notes to let my pen catch up with my thoughts.  But I wonder if my notation is letting me down.   I’m starting to struggle to decode myself.  I’m finding initials and scratches of phrase that mean nothing.  I knew I had a problem when the other day  I found a stern command in bold capitals to ‘WRITE ABOUT D & G’ with no idea who or what this refers to, but I’m fairly sure it’s not Dolce & Gabbana.  Maybe this is how it looks when a writer loses their mind.

And while they are of little use if they don’t remind me of what I wanted to remember at least they form a strange poetry of their own.  And if my jottings were intended to be a sprinkled line of breadcrumbs to lead me home that has clearly failed - but at least I’ve fed the birds.

Thursday, January 24, 2013

snow diary two

(marking the melting more than the fall)

day one

First snow fall.  A messy affair – the snow has fallen with prejudice, favouring leaves and the narrow edges of fences and walls – avoiding large areas of tarmac and concrete.  The effect is uneven and not the completion we know this beast is capable of.  On her back windscreen the layer of snow is melting and slipping – opening like a lazy eye.

day five

Second fall.  What wasn’t there when we woke now is.  This Friday disappears, one settled centimetre after the other.  Upturned hanging baskets become snow crusted cages protecting bulb sprouts beneath.  The deep huff of snow collapsing beneath her boot steps. 

day six

There is a beach of bare path around our door.  There are footprints coming close to the house – some look long-pawed, perhaps belonging to the fox I saw in the road last night.  I have little left to say about this snow but more maybe on it’s way – the forecasts are vague – perhaps if it comes it will bring my words with it.

day seven

She retreads her track to the birdbath and back.  The snow falls in fine flakes that make me feel like I’m looking at old photographs of our garden – grown speckled and pale from the drift of memory.

day eight

A perfect dome of snow still covers our chosen marker stone.  There are other blobs and bumps of snow on the paths and I wish I could learn a frozen form of Braille – to read them and learn the story of what lies beneath.

day nine

Surrounded by the drippings of thaw as my word count grows.  The snow becomes glassy and darker at it’s base – it starts to let go, surrender this temporary state – it prepares to slide away.

day eleven

Third fall.  An unexpected visitor over night.  Cars pass with ruffling toppings – as if someone has pushed back a tablecloth once the meal is over.  The tops of fences like the edges of ripped paper – abandon another bad idea.  

Thursday, January 10, 2013

friend of a friend

Every new year I struggle to throw away last year’s calendar, to abandon the colours that have kept me company each month.  So this year I truly recycled – snipping free little replicas of 18th century birds.  These are the ones that got away – the ones that want to tell their stories before they go.

When I search online to find any details of that calendar I find nothing but dead links – to all intents and purposes those birds of 2012 are extinct.  But I remember them, larger and sharper than these clippings suggest – hung on a hook above the study radiator.  Pages lifting and falling and curling slightly in the updraught - even in two dimensions they longed to fly.

I am the bird above the blue bird.  You don’t need to know my name or anything much about me.  My feathers come in a handful of colours so I fit well in most social situations and adapt easily to everyday avian requirements.  Not so my friend below.

He is a bird of a discontented hue.  Every time he perches nearby his pips and trills are filled with how he has spent much of his morning flying cloud-high only to close his wings and free-fall, eyes closed – pretending to be a raindrop. 

He tells me too how tomorrow he plans to fly two miles out over the sea, then will his feathers to turn to scales, his wings to fins so he can dive right in.

Some birds weren’t meant to be hatched blue.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

seaside gothic

I am somewhere between excitement and fear.  I can’t see where I’m going – anything might be waiting there.  Or worse, nothing.

I can’t see where I’m going, and where I’m going can’t see me.  The end of the pier neither here nor there – lost in thick mist.

there for the taking
so much poetry
in the mist

I should have brought my camera – not that there is much to see.  Crows in the mist and the view to the west slightly clearer than the east.  It kills sound as well as sight, this mist.  But what it leaves of both becomes more vital.  I cling to any sensations still available.  I don’t just hear the waves – I feel them through the structure I stand on.  The footsteps of other people speak to me through the vibrations of the boards.  I am conducting a séance – awaiting knocks and tremors – trying to reach the living rather than the dead.

something certain
the sound of the waves
in this mist

And every time I walk on two crows appear just ahead of me – as if they are here to guide me back inland.  As if they have been spat out of the mist after it has finished devouring the usual white birds.

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

writing between the lines

I spend a lot of time thinking about writing even when I’m not.  I picture my hand holding a pen and crawling letter by letter across a blank page.  Forming sentences is my version of counting the rosary – part comfort, part confession.  Writing self-help books say one must believe oneself to be a writer.  And I do – albeit one who doesn’t write much, or as much as I should, or want to.

I’m comforted when I encounter other writers who write about not writing, or the end of their writing, or the things they haven’t written.  There was a great piece by John Barth in a recent Granta magazine – replicated here as a podcast.  And George Steiner’s My Unwritten Books was worth every penny of it’s Poundland price.  It’s comforting to know I’m not the only one. 

There are things that I’d like to write about but likely never will - but still such pleasure to imagine what might happen if I did.

Stories about approaching St Petersburg by boat.  Of  something lost in the middle of the North Sea.  About those strange places where oceans meet seas.  Stories peopled by characters with short common names (like Mark) that have far more going on than you would suspect.  I want to cover vast distances without leaving the house, pepper my landscapes with appropriate trees and introduce ‘marram grass’ like I mean business.  I want to tell the tale of what happens when a milliner meets a collector of rare feathers.  

Thursday, September 29, 2011

the spare room

[inspired by the title of a novel by Helen Garner]

If we had a spare room we’d make good use of it.  We’d throw it open and welcome allsorts to come and stay - objects rather than people.

A drawer full of post-it-notes and not just the yellow ones.  Another bulging with inner tubes in various sizes, to guard against all manner of deflation.  And one for that novel by Emma Donoghue that we have two copies of as where else better?  Nestled next to the little rice cooking ball that looks like a robot planet, that so appealed in the catalogue, shiny with potential just as any robot planet would be, but which we’ve never used.

A small shelf of books - the handful we have truly loved and can’t bear to part with.  Another with framed photos of those people we’ve parted with and can’t bear to love.  A row of jars containing nothing but air, sealed inside on memorable days.  A bundle of envelopes that once held letters in various forms, the typed and the handwritten, the cryptic, coded and downright blunt.  The letters themselves have gone but the envelopes bear witness to our first encounters with bad news in its many guises.

Coppers in a pot just in case we ever find something worth buying for just one or two pence.  A dish full of seeds collected from things grown in our garden – things we didn’t plant, but which grew from previous seeds deposited by passing creatures.  And a pill box brimful of apostrophes - the should have used, overused and those kept handy just in case.      

Sunday, September 04, 2011

gold mining

In January and July this year I paddled in the River of Stones and panned for my own nuggets of daily truth.

I think it's high time I re-polished my nuggets and dangled them here to delight those who prefer truth when it sparkles and burns and buys it's way into all the most (un)desirable places.

Inevitably drawn to pale foods he was the sort of man to heap his plate with potatoes and spend the meal searching for his meat.  To drink two pints of milk straight from a summer doorstep and smile away the morning as they curdled gently within.  To think of his mother whenever he caught himself looking at a woman's breasts - remembering her force feeding him rice pudding, and withholding blancmange when he'd been bad.

Friday, August 12, 2011

I predict a riot

‘… violence is embedded in public spaces whether visible or not, because public spaces are responsive to violence even before the violence has occurred, through the physical design.’
Jen Berean & Pat Foster (PoCA magazine)
The child barely manages to post the empty crisp packet into the bin before his mother drags him onwards. He looks back hoping to catch a glimpse as it starts to crackle and smoke. He scrapes his shoe along the edge of the kerbstone, throwing out an anchor to slow their progress, but all he leaves is a slight red scuff that melts and slowly dribbles toward the gutter. A police car passes and he pictures it upside down, end over end, any way but this – much more fun than flipping triangles in maths class. His mother says he has an overactive imagination although she struggles to keep the syllables in their rightful place.
The mother drags him onwards, just another bag of shopping she can barely afford only without the handles. He bulges, he sags, he makes her arm ache, he threatens to spill his contents across the pavement at any moment. They stop by a shop, the mother staring at the screen of her mobile phone, decoding abbreviated declarations of love from the latest in a long line of abbreviated lovers. The child exhales. His breath a hazy cloud on the shop window. In this he draws – not letters or hearts or faces – but jagged lines that divide and collide to form little pieces of steamed glass. A map of how this window might come apart.

Friday, May 28, 2010

where the wild things are

spotted last sunday. baby birds times two. the collared dove not yet smooth, and darker than it will become. like brewed tea taken less milky. the sparrow still fluffed with down the colour of ash. a little phoenix. both hopeless against the wind, content to go wherever it takes them.


at the corner point of the roof next door is a strip of metal that forms a curl. a roofer’s flourish it looks like it should support a hanging basket although that would float far to high for belief, watering or enjoyment. this afternoon, one foot on the tile, another on the curl, stands a crow. looking to each cardinal direction in turn. sparkling in the sun. if black can be said to sparkle.


this morning. a small green beetle-bug comes through the door. perhaps wind blown, perhaps self propelled. it lands on my hand. I try to shake it off, I am reading. it weaves between my fingers, round the back and in between. it has a long body, not a round one. I flick it off and it skids across my page. I grab it and feel it rattling slightly in my fist. like a word you can’t quite remember. I cast it out the door, badly. it sails towards the little bleached fir that we plan to plant round the front to replace the one that we uprooted at the end of last year. the one that had grown too big for us and for itself. but beetle-bug falls short, and lands in a web. I hope it gets free. I am reading but I would rather it was still stuck to me than to that web.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

101 ways to write about rain

Sometimes it seems like there’s a lot of it about. So, in the spirit of ‘if you can’t beat them join them’ I aim to get to know each and every drop.
the rain started like a rumour. a whisper at the back of the classroom. a secret passed on under the breath. a hastily scribbled note on folded scrap paper. she knew what was happening behind her back. she knew it was coming for her. yet again she’d be caught in a cloudburst.
your eyes are like rainclouds. filling. filling the sky. no wind. no movement. some light. not much. blankety and grey. comforting in their familiarity but largely unwelcome on a summer day. all day they linger. they stay. but drop not a drop. they glower but never shower. you threaten to rain. but don’t.
false alarm rain. a few spots that linger in the air but don’t drop. that hang there to create the impression of rain. like a raindrop mobile above a baby that never breathes. enough to get you up off the sofa, out of your book. to bring you to the window. out the back door to bring in the washing. while the drops hang still.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

what a difference a day makes

today is all I have to do. brown blankets to the power of two. strawberry tea brewed strong with one heaped sweet. listen to short CDs, boys with guitars and easy accents. finger nails tap in time on the rim of this mug. net curtains parted slightly, hooked by a thread on a thorn on a pot plant. the street outside, a dagger shape slicing into view. a scrappy bookmark of the place I left off, that I’m meant to pick up again. but not today.

* * * * *

the garden grew indistinct. she thought she was falling asleep with her eyes open. but it was just a sea mist creeping through. not rolling in the way they usually do, steering round corners and piping between trees. this one seemed to form in the air itself. in every place between here and the distance the air grew thicker and the view thinner. as if something was turning down the volume on this tuesday afternoon.

Monday, March 01, 2010

patchwork prose

I’ve always been drawn to mosaics, jigsaws and patchwork. Anything that aims to make a whole out of small somethings. I also regularly need to revisit the question of why I write. It feels reckless to do it without understanding my motivation. I’m not the type of person who would climb a mountain simply because it’s there. And the answer I’ve often come to is that I write to keep record. Noting the daily in an effort to distinguish the uniqueness of each. I think that’s a major reason why haiku suits me. Each is a little patch, and seen together they suggest some kind of record of experience. A patchwork of my days. Of course I like my flights of fancy too, my wild imaginings. Perhaps these are my play, where I fling the patched cape around my shoulders and pretend to be a kaleidoscopic witch for the day.

I’ve dabbled with reading diaries before, but never fully embraced them. Plath’s big green volume has been bowing my bookshelf for years. But recently I’ve dipped my toe into May Sarton’s coastal account shared in The House by the Sea. And I’m astounded at how much I’m finding there, how much relevance to my todays considering Sarton’s todays were almost forty years ago. I admire a diary keeper - their bravery as they allow me to hear their confession. The way they aren’t ashamed to be so indulgent as to write about themselves day after day. Perhaps we all hope to create something that will outlive and outlast us. Some people bear children to meet this need, while some of us prefer to make something we can burn if we change our minds.

Today I shall start to read the first entry in the fictional diary of Ruth which runs through Thaw, the third novel from Fiona Robyn. I’m interested to see how Ruth uses her diary, and if you are too you can read along for the next three months at Thaw.

Friday, February 19, 2010

unrecognisable truths

I always enjoy spending time browsing through the posts at One Million Footnotes, not least because the most interesting text recognition scrambles appear when I comment there. And perhaps influenced by the mood of the place, sometimes I can’t help but make up sentences to nest these unexpected words.

A recent dubious flock hatched the following -

  • He said he admired my fulogo and I admitted I had waited years for it to bloom that profusely.

  • As they lifted the deadverd stones from their mahogany chest and laid them into a perfect circle they knew that tonight was the night it would happen.

  • How ever much her grandmother combed or wetted them with spittle, she could never calm those unruly efrai that danced around her ears.

  • The seeds of the pandea were bitter between his teeth. But they made his dreams taste sweet.

  • The odabil was lost overboard, just as they rounded the lighthouse. It sunk slowly to the seabed and sometime later was appropriated by a shy hermit crab.

  • It wasn’t the first case of outterea they had recorded, but it was the worst. It didn’t quite kill the villagers, but they were left distinctly altered, unaware that they’d made it into the record books.

Sunday, February 14, 2010

a 3-ply valentine

This is the tissue that carried two drops of oil of eucalyptus. That lay folded beneath your pillow. That let you sleep and dream away the fever. That helped you be a hummingbird.

This is the tissue that you fashioned into a soft envelope. To treasure the eyelash. That you found between the pages of a second hand paperback. The day you fell in love with a stranger.

This is the tissue you clutched. That midnight we shared secrets. The ones you’d stood on for years. The ones that started to eat you from the feet up.

This is the tissue that caught your hayfever tears. Walking through the fields. Swigging cherry wine from the bottle. Looking down at the village we’d outgrown.

This is the tissue that blew overboard. Out on deck. Cross Channel ferry. Smiling and watching the others look seasick.

This is the tissue you found stuffed down the back of the sofa. As you sat with your coffee cooling. On the first Valentine’s day without a card.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

suburban myths

I don’t believe in these snowflakes. The sky is laughing and running with scissors. It’s breaking the rules and snipping the corners off clouds, and dropping the litter in my garden. The trees and the shrubs are dancing with agitation. The wind is getting on their nerves as they try to make plans for spring.

Thursday, February 04, 2010

shower the people with love

If I had the time I’d tell you a story about the girl who could speak to the rain.

I’d tell you how she would sit in a quiet room and let it patter at her window. Few people know that raindrops speak a language distantly related to Morse code. She would listen to their hopes, their everyday worries and their weekend heartaches. She was usually content to listen, a well mannered eavesdropper, and they didn’t seem to mind. But occasionally she’d reply, tapping on the glass with her fingernails. And then the raindrops would gather on the other side, in eager clumps and clusters. She’d share little matters of little interest – what she’d had for lunch or a snippet from a magazine. And they’d be thrilled. Few people care enough to learn fluent raindrop. Sometimes she’d wish a raindrop ‘Happy Birthday’ and tonnes of others would arrive in a flurry to cheer and toss the birthday drop around. Passersby would frown and pull their collar tighter to their neck. Sometimes she’d go to other houses and overhear other people’s raindrops. They were never as friendly as hers. To long ignored they’d hurl themselves cursing against the window pane – threatening to break in and drown the householders. Other houses had sad raindrops sliding slowly towards the sill, crying and muttering how no-one loved them.

I’d like to learn to speak raindrop. If I could I think we might forge a better relationship. We could learn not to mess with each others plans.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

hate crimes (part 2)

Once upon a time I built her a house of cards. To keep her happy, to lock her away.

For her second coming I’m constructing a life-size cinema made from spent matchsticks. I’m laying an orange carpet, and tearing out the flame retardant seats. I’m painting the walls the colour of London street corners, edged with waiting for taxis at 2 a.m. The air-conditioning silently circulates the smell of the bottom of a strangers shoe, of spat out chewing gum that tastes of your kiss.

And she’ll get a front row seat. To watch the show. To see how quickly we all fall down. One huff, two puffs, three’s company and four’s a cloud.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

snow diary

day one
The white one has come. It used to be a rare bird, but here it is, in our garden, the second visit in a month. We must adjust to the blank landscapes that fill every window frame. And the silence. The snow is all we talk about, comparing flake size and coverage. It’s all I write about - all day until my paragraphs shrink to bullet points and your bootprints fill with fresh fall.
I know a warm hearted man who believes that snowflakes are made of spite, with a little water and sky thrown into the mix, just to help them to fly.
day two
So much for central heating. She brings a fallen icicle indoors. She places it in a glass and takes photos. Sometime later I look and it’s only millimetres shorter than it was before.
day three
The man with the white car hasn’t left his house in days. Today he emerges, and chips away at the ice and snow with a scraper and a brush. He wears a brown cardigan and works till his hands look undercooked. He runs his engine till the snow on the bonnet has thawed. He clears the headlights, then goes back indoors.
day four
The white tide is lapping at our door. No longer the slim beach of bare concrete. Today, the frozen waves are cresting the double-glazing.
Sparrows kick up small flurries with their feet. Woodpigeons no longer leave neat impression of their footsteps. Instead they are sunk to their feathered undersides and drag themselves along with their grey mood in tow.
day five
I wake and check Tommy’s roof. Eyeing tiles as if they were distant hills. Today they are red. All morning a steady dripping. The new snow melts first, uncovering old footprints. It doesn’t melt so much as fade. Concrete burning its way back through.
She walks the garden path with a jug. Filled with water for the birds. And on her return, with sprigs of rosemary for our dinner.
day six
The neighbour’s over-hang drips steadily. The postman delivers five days of mail with a guilty look. And the redwings come no closer than the far tree.
day seven
She wears different boots today. The marks they leave are proper footprint shapes – the kind you draw or doodle in the margin and can only watch as they snake their way across your blank page.
People have claimed the road as their own. An old man pulling a trolleybag and a young woman pushing a buggy. Walking in the tracks of the cars that went before. Trudging the black lines carved through old snow to tarmac below.
day eight
He said they’d gone, that the worst was over. The fieldfares back to the fields and the redwings on the wing. I dreamed busy dreams. I slept with my left foot sticking out the right side of the duvet. I woke to more snow.
these things fall silently
tears and snowflakes
beautiful and bearable
only in ones and twos

[with thanks to dandelion for the above image]

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

either / or

some fictions about a factual day
some facts about a fictional day

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