Which is a line from the sublime Wallace Stevens, whose poetry is all the palm at the end of the mind. And beyond. Poems fill me like cream cakes each morning, touch me with goosebumps, leave me dazed and intoxicated while sober.
My beloved housemate and the only person I really call family, is awaiting keyhole surgery on her knee out at a mediclinic about two hours’ drive away. She says that the sky is bright blue and the mountains all around are completely white with snow. She had her last bite to eat at 6am and is ravenous, wants to come home tomorrow to roast chicken and roast potatoes and cauliflower with cheese sauce and not a leafy green vegetable in sight.
It is pouring with rain here and steadily getting colder. I have taken out an extra quilt for the night and drink steaming mugs of spicy chai, wrapping my fingers around the hot mug for warmth. Bedraggled African ibises crouch on the garage roof. The farmer’s wife who is studying French with me did not turn up this morning and a literacy workshop was cancelled so that people did not have to walk miles in the icy rain and mud.
I am sick with anxiety about Una’s surgery but staying in the moment with routines of work, puppy love and connectivity with much loved friends as well as reaching out to those who woke up hungover and heartsick this mornng. Contact with the still suffering alcoholic puts everything in perspective and gives me a chance to be useful.
A tenderly tactful editor in California has asked me to rewrite the ending of a piece of short fiction she likes very much. I sat up rewriting it, labouring over each sentence and then going back through the rest of the story correcting for motivation and talking out the dialogue aloud to myself in the bath, the best place to hear if a sentence has the emphasis or rythmns needed. It sees fine — perhaps even an improvement. But for me the fiction now has two endings and I feel as if I have given birth to twins and must not show favouritism.
And now the rain has begun pouring down my kitchen chimney and I feel like the woodcutter’s daught in a Perrault fairytale, the hearth blackened from waterfalls of soot and freezing rain water turning the kitchen into a deluge while I dash around with a broom and mops and my tiny Cinderella puppies leave trails of paw marks and bark at the roaring ogre up the chimney. The little toyshop of unavoidable disasters and unpredictable happiness.