The wind came up and roared all night, hammering at windows and chipping roof tiles. I lay awake thinking about the roof blowing off and how I was going to carry three dogs to safety and then come back to piggyback the housemate up to the loft if there was flooding.
Whenever the wind died down, I lay and thought about what my life would have been like if I had not been mad or drunken or depressed or procrastinating or in love at moments of opportunity. Cheerful thoughts at 3am, tell me about it. How have I wasted my life, let me count the ways. Gratitude? Bah, humbug.
Then I got up in a high wind, put on a Japanese kimono-style dressing gown with no belt (because the dog ate the belt) and had to do an undignified dash out into the dark windy garden to try to pick up fallen avocados before the dog got hold of them. Avocado pulp is not good for dogs.
The dog, wearing a grim determined look, raced ahead of me and ran off into the cistus bushes with a large Fuertes avocado and I had to stumble around in the scratchy bushes swearing at him and eventually wrenching the slimy half-chewed avocado out of his mouth. I could hear the housemate laughing at me in the background. As soon as I had taken away the avocado, the dog wanted to be friends and slobber all over my face, head-butt my belly and make lovey-dovey noises in my ear. Then (sigh) he became erotically attached to my foot because his testosterone levels are rising as his teeny little soft testicles descend. Yelled and swore some more, and then got back into the kitchen and had a cup of tea and reconciled with the dog. Sat and cuddled my other two dogs who are jealous and have taken to chewing paperback novels (Paul Bowles’ The Sheltering Sky, damn it) to get attention.
Whenever I have gone through a time when too many friends have died and especially in the wake of suicide, I have stumbled and quavered around with a cramping fear in my heart and stomach in case anyone else I love is thinking of killing themselves and is not telling me. This tends to make communications a little stilted.
Friend: Hi Mary, I am having a rough week here…
Mary: Don’t do it, don’t do it, promise me you won’t do anything , well anything at all.
This poem says it all so much better.
A Ritual to Read to Each Other
If you don’t know the kind of person I am
and I don’t know the kind of person you are
a pattern that others made may prevail in the world
and following the wrong god home we may miss our star.
For there is many a small betrayal in the mind,
a shrug that lets the fragile sequence break
sending with shouts the horrible errors of childhood
storming out to play through the broken dyke.
And as elephants parade holding each elephant’s tail,
but if one wanders the circus won’t find the park,
I call it cruel and maybe the root of all cruelty
to know what occurs but not recognize the fact.
And so I appeal to a voice, to something shadowy,
a remote important region in all who talk:
though we could fool each other, we should consider–
lest the parade of our mutual life get lost in the dark.
For it is important that awake people be awake,
or a breaking line may discourage them back to sleep;
the signals we give–yes, no, or maybe–
should be clear: the darkness around us is deep.