Sunday, 28 June 2015

"Give wine. Give bread. Give your heart back to itself".

The same question I asked last year, and the year before that: where do the hours go? And the weeks? And the months? Sometimes I feel like my life is an abacus, with a child in charge of the beads, slinging them from one side of the frame to the other so that the numbers accumulate so much more quickly than they should. Or a handful of sand that won't rest on a palm, but lifts in the wind and is gone in a spin of scratch and glitter.

I went to New York in April with C, for two long, beautiful weeks. We walked the grids of the city until our feet were threadbare, drank American beer in the park with the grass wrapping our ankles. We spent hours inside the 911 museum, and I left salt tears on the floor there. We drank Manhattans in a bar above the skyline and watched the clouds turn pink and gold; saw seagulls wheel and scream from the boardwalk at Coney Island. I took photographs of everything: the oysters we ate in a rooftop jazz bar; the Brooklyn bridge spoking out against the sky; the seats on the subway, the colour of Spanish oranges; the elegant brownstones frothing with magnolia flowers, miles high.


What else?

I've been writing. Writing hard and fast. The cheap book, the one I've pinned my hopes on like a flower pressed between pages. Between a wish and  dream. It's not good, exactly. It's not the poetry I want to write. It's not careful or elegant. It doesn't make me swell with pride. I won't even write my own name on the cover. What it is, is easy. What it is, hopefully, is a means to an end. And so I keep on, and my heart is on pause, and the words mount up, a pile of pebbles building a little bridge.

And also.

Sunday lunches with cold beer in the sun. Writing poems on the train trips home, as the city recedes and fields flash by full of cows, full of wheat. Friday nights in pyjamas. Bottles of wine. Long, lovely Saturdays where he works and I write, he sunk in his passion, I in mine. Impromptu trips to countryside farm stores to fill our basket with garlic-stuffed olives and elderflower wine, and cheese, and smoked meats, and eggs, and fish. Movie nights under blankets. Playing rock paper scissors on the weekend mornings to decide who gets up to make the coffee. Painting the walls of his house, room by room, so that when I move in, it's new, and ours, and clean, and shining like a newly minted coin.

And then.

Sending out poems, like casting glass bottles out into the sea. Waiting for the emails and the letters to return with a yes or no. Waiting for the journals and anthologies to come with my words pressed into them like footprints in snow.

These are the simplest and happiest days of my life. It's not about having money, or silk skirts, or clavicles so hollow that rain can collect there. It's the quietest things: good food. Enough sleep. Reading until my eyes are so full I feel they could burst, and send sentences out like confetti. Kisses goodnight and good morning. Corralling wayward paragraphs to make a book, like herding sheep after errant sheep until finally they co-ordinate, a single, substantial flock.

If I could wish, now, for anything, if I could rub my thumbs on a genie's brass lamp or spy the wink of a falling star, I would wish only for this. To keep making these quietly shining days. To collect them, like lights on strings. Like pearls at a throat. Like fireflies burning moon-bright in a jar.