All writing, creative writing anyhow, as a defamiliarising process. Not to stitch together fragments so much as pay attention to lacunae, the gaps and ellipses, what does not fit, what signifies void, what will not cohere. And catching my breath to push harder into this writing business. As if I was once again a small girl diving in from the highest diving board, launching myself towards the unknowable flat water surfaces, bracing for the unknown with arms extended for a swan dive, head first. And to dive in cleanly, to slice into what lies deep and shocking, to enter another atmosphere, another medium.
Writing about war and the pity that is in war.
“I thought poetry could change everything, could change history and could humanize, and I think that the illusion is very necessary to push poets to be involved and to believe, but now I think that poetry changes only the poet.” ~ Mahmoud Darwish
The friends who are divorcing assure one another and mutual friends and family that this will be amicable, polite, no squabbling, no using the children as pawns. They mean well but already they confide in separate friends, they ask friends not to breathe a word but instead to take sides, to stand by them in the ordeal. Rumours fly back and forth. And is anyone ever calm and rational about money? Only the lawyers are dispassionate and keep their own interests close to their chests.
Violence breaking out from East to West, from Munich to Kabul, deaths and suffering at the hands of ‘madmen’. The chicanery ( trumpery?) of politics and elections. The summer flinging itself into throes of heat, the winter here clear and bright.
I pause in my reading of World War I diaries and letters to make a light vegetable stock for risotto. Going into the kitchen and watching (covertly) the ground woodpecker on the grass under olive trees. Simmering pots, measuring out carneroli rice or arborio, grating Parmesan, chopping parsley, soaking dried porcini and chanterelles, examining broad flat black mushrooms from nearby woodlands. Seeing already the smiling faces around the kitchen table.
A new week, new work projects, phone calls to be made, emails to be answered. That hum of a busy life underway, the friends coming around, an anniversary supper for close friends, soups for the hungry, vegetables from local food gardens to be brought home and sorted. And this blog takes on the slapdash quality of a diary, something that doesn’t worry me too much — simply to record a passing moment, a quotation or lines from a poem, notes jotted down as I take a break between stints of concentrated work.
Conversation in snatches:
“If we go down to the coast for the weekend, we’ll need a dog-sitter…”
“No problem but I can’t take time off that month, can they make it another weekend? Are the whales birthing in the bay yet, has anyone seen them?”
“We can’t miss whales in spring — have you seen my library books? I stacked them somewhere obvious.”
“What is that dog barking at? Don’t tell me there is a squirrel up the liquidambar tree again?”
“Right, I’m off, there’s M at the front gate in her weird pork pie hat with the candy stripes. Why are all our friends so badly dressed?”
And then the house falls silent again, you could hear blades of grass growing, the sun shafts through onto walls and wooden floors, panels and oblongs of sun falling through dust motes and barred shadow. And outside the gnarly branches of the pin oak, catalpa, poplar, sycamore, jacaranda, tipuana and fig are studded with scaly gummed buds, some tucked in the axil of the leaf, some swelling on a bare twig. Nature does not need us, we are extraneous even in the gardens.