[undated journal - July]
Hello Friday. All those plants on the brick wall, my fullness of days.
This morning the barefoot man, white teeshirt, pile of hair, beautiful beautiful
eyes, sitting in my garden making songs.
- Oh blow you winds bitterly
- Blow you strong winds
- The single bliss, it's everything there is to want, eggs in a glass
saucepan, bacon and bread, tea, on the grass. When he'd washed up and I
came behind him, put my arms around him, felt what a hard flesh under loose
cotton skin, smelled what a warm smell, I could go soft to look at the
plastic bowl in the sun, the bare bulb and its color, the door open to
see the garden in another sort of light. Being so close to some body and
not being quite afraid of it.
The garden charging itself with light, strawberries quietly getting redder
hour by hour.
I'm so beautiful too, arms, haunches, hair; the room and garden are my
secondary sexual characteristics: sex appeal.
[Andy's] Auntie Annie, a surprising wide mushy face, blue-coated eyes
like the steers', and out of it comes the sharp real woman, flirting with
her favorite boy ("Isn't he gorgeous?" looking at him smiling
in his red shirt), cross with her infirmities - "Chop them off!"
she says, holding her hands out to him. "Shoot me! What am I good for?"
"You're good for a laugh" he says, and she laughs, her face widens
and smiles. Her old photographs, she looks out of her broad face with warm
intelligence, she's radiant with intelligence. She'd had her hair bobbed;
and her mother went out, without saying a word, and had hers bobbed too,
"'Then we'll both be street girls,' she said. I'll never forget what
In the garden picking black currents.
She waved from the top of the steps.
The motorway café 10 miles from London parked with lorries like
sleeping beasts. Coming out of the motorway stupor, slowly crossing the
pavement. Andy in his black plastic jacket like a spaceman, and I in my
sneakers like space shoes without gravity. The rumpled people in their magical
Two women with two little children peering around them, wrapped in blankets,
completely silent. Your jokes are much better than mine.
- But I sang you a song that you said was divine
- And our ankles touched under the table
Outbreaks of hilarity.
At the far end of the counter was an old Sikh man, white bearded, with
a white turban, king of that moonland.
In the car near Heathrow looking at the side window past Andy's face,
the light falling on my reflection, falling and obliterating it like a shade,
and it appearing again, other things behind.
"I can't look at you for long, it makes me feel weak."
I can look at you endlessly, it makes me feel round, resonant, dreamy
as a stone, makes me silent. Am I allowed to be that - not quite. I sat
in the garden, looked at the geraniums, empty of thoughts, slow, full, present
in great calm joy which is present equally to garden snails as to you, and
to remembered friends; but near right, retribution, how many honeymoons
am I allowed before the gods crack my spine? Before I'm too old, before
no one will travel with me. Before one of my little crimes catches me.
The presence of the cats: one came yesterday and lay down next to Andy
on the grass, parallel to him and me; flat. When it lay down, like a person,
it had the same weight of presence. Couldn't see them while Jane lived here.
This morning I lay next to Andy for five hours while it rained outside,
and then later stopped and when we'd eaten breakfast at two, the sun came
out. What I want to say: we lay next to each other, all our clothes on,
cold rainy air on the outsides of our bodies, and where we touched along
our bellies, focused on the hard knob between us, we seemed to be fucking
by our breath. He said I was setting off bombs in his stomach, and I, that
mine was like a hollow - cavern, he said - hollow, yes, I said, right to
the spine, into which 'our' breath radiated like radio waves, like circles
Beauty of July, the easy living of it, things come alive, snails, cats,
plants, cliffs of lights, wind, I cut through them like a knife-edged razor-edged
fan turning, and feel balanced, really balanced on the edge of death that's
not oblivion, but worse.
Money from the Arts Council.
Just eyes is enough. Being able to see.
There was a tomato on the window sill, in the sun, yesterday. The number
of colours in its so-called red!
"Your mouth, and your baggy jeans and your voice and your cut hands."
Dorothy Richardson tells me - has been telling me all day - that my thoughts
are interesting because I have them.
Everything that shines can see.
- A glisten on his bones, he says, and I'm so grateful
- I turn him to gold and kiss his kneecaps.
- Birdbones, I mean YOU.
- What a steady delirium, what a caper when I love and you love too.
- You've got things to say about how limited I am;
- One of these days I'll hear them, but you, your house, and me too,
- We're big bare trees, and the spaces between our branches
- Which are roots, which are leaves,
- Which are white nerves, red veins, blue arteries,
- Are full of whatever nests. How we do glisten with
- White clouds, caterpillar treads, and all
- The degrees and distances of simple sky.
It seems likely that Roy has taken Luke. Having done a little of what
I can do to stop him - [phoned] Heathrow - I'm left remembering all the
times when my body's been raked by the icy wind of his violence, cunning.
I did not think quickly, and it was my unconscious computer that told me,
two hours too late, what I think is up: adding together the signs. Or, if
not this time, then next time. The birth certificate is gone.
Hey: one day I'll be dead, one day perhaps I'll be old and fat. But tonight,
five minutes to twelve, Sunday, September 22, I am: not dead, not old, not
ugly, not quite fat. A certain drawn thirty-years look, but I went to the
movies by myself, peacefully, and was elegant in my long black dress and
the green coat with a geranium pinned on it, hair up, and my elegance gave
me authority to push the two big red drunks out of the lift when they were
frightening the lift woman. I ordered them out and then I pushed them out,
and knew they couldn't hurt me. All the other passengers had vanished. "Chilly
cunt" he muttered.
Just discovered what it is that is making me look old: the beginning
of a jowl: a little soft pad along the upper jaw, that pleats back when
I smile and that make the high line of my cheekbone seem to slip or double
- anyway thickens it.
The Planets. I'm dancing in my clogs in the kitchen because I'm
happy because: "I left my mother to draw forth from oblivion her beloved
dead, while I remained dreaming of a scent and a picture that she had evoked:
the smell of the soft bricks of chocolate, and the hollow flowers that bloomed
beneath the paws of the vagrant cat." Colette 1873-1954. Sido, ou
les points cardinaux: "the mariner's chart, or rose, of the neighbouring
Tony: two stories from New York. Long drunken evening in gay bars, about
4 a.m. he and John head for home, he suddenly says see you and runs as fast
as he can, away, until he can't run any more. He is in a narrow street with
no lights. A white Cadillac stops and a black girl in a white 'silk' (satin?)
trouser suit gets out the passenger side. They arrive at the back of the
car at the same moment. She's beautiful, smiles at him, says do you mind
if I ? Takes down her white trousers, squats down and pees, still smiling
up at him. Then pulls them up again and gets back into the car.
Another morning goes to bed at six and wakes at eight, very clear-headed.
Goes into a state he describes as a conversation between the various people
he is, among them his essential self. It is not exactly a conversation,
he can't be clearer than that. The essential self is present, it seems,
when the other characters are saying things which are untrue, mistakes or
lies. The essential self is only there when they are recognized as untrue.
He falls asleep and there is a loud buzzing in his ears. He can't wake up,
but eventually does. He's frightened but decides to risk going to sleep
again. Same thing happens. It is even more difficult to waken and when at
last he forces himself out he stays awake for a while.
Calls it his vision. Its use, he says, is that he feels he can call it
up again. Something to discipline himself toward.
Holland Park, being alone as it became dark. The yellow trees on its
edge spotlit. Having to get out over a fence.
Sarah at the [Steiner] bookshop, in her animation releasing the shy woman
who employs her. Something a little off-centre in the talk, it was a little
forced, maybe by sitting opposite, but in it the bottom sense of here's
Sarah with whom I could associate. No guff. Bursting with crossness, laughter.
The exchange with our dry waitress:
"White or black?"
Kneeling, head bent down under A's arm, flash: image of sitting on a
raft looking down at water gliding very muscularly and quietly. It was illustrating
the thought that I wait sometimes patiently, sometimes not, to see what
my feelings say - it pleased me to feel so warmed and given when
I put my face against A's plaid soap-smelling shoulder - because they are
my permission to act - or my withheld permission. It seemed curious: I am
as if obedient to orders coming from somewhere else, although the orders
can please or displease me. The curiousness, the paradox, is that I stake
my honesty, integrity, my rightness, on acting in relation to what
I feel, while relating to those feelings as if they came from outside me.
And also those feelings being completely liquid, unrelated to logic or reasons:
they are prior to logic. It's an obedience to the body and all that implies
of obedience to weather, season, stars, etc. Very paradoxical. Yet seems
fine. Opposed to it is all my argument about managing one's relationship,
knowing one's own circles; it isn't contradictory but it is the question
of will to obedience. Also double-edged balance. Amn't saying anything new
but the image was good and grew precisely out of my posture at the time
I was having the thought.
Luke's story about Eskimos: "But I really saw an Eskimo house."
"You haven't ever -."
"Yes, when you wasn't there, in Wales with Jud, an' I went far away
by myself, except there was a tiny thing with me."
"What kind of tiny thing?"
"A tiny thing like a bee."
"So you went far away by yourself?"
"No, me and the tiny thing: the Eskimo house had a hundred Eskimos
"Eskimo houses are very little."
"This was an Eskimo house what you never saw, what has sixteen stories.
I'll show you, one, two, three, four, five, six, eight ."
"Seven, eighteen ."
"Eight, eleventeen ."
"Nine, ten, eleven, twelve, sixteen ."
"Thirteen, eleventeen ." (Etc.)
"And what happened when you got there?"
"The Eskimos said come inside and I went inside and I went upstairs
and looked at their beds."
"Did you have anything to eat?"
"Yes, I had a biscuit and a cheese sandwich and some milk. And some
orange what you never saw."
Luke today lying asleep by the fire, in little cotton pants and vest,
his beautiful limbs, his beautiful face. Full of inventions he is. His shit
going sixty miles an hour. Sixty miles, that's as far as the Sufi farm,
in one hour, as from 6 o'clock to 7 o'clock I say. "Then my shit will
go to the Sufi farm, and it will stay there for ever." "No, maybe
it will come to the door," I say, "and knock 'Plop! Plop!' and
say 'I'm back!' and then I will say ugck! and slam the door."
"The toilet would have to be like its door" sez Luke. This as
he's balanced on the toilet seat, knickers holding his knees together, feet
back on either side the bowl.
Luke and I as if in love these days, grace gets to us at the same time.
The thought that's behind the thought I think I'm thinking. Once I caught
a window in a frame [sketch]. Once a sort of parallel track [sketch]. It
was as if I could see the physical form of the thought.
When I pray it's to marry my warrior and little girl. That is not sex
or gender, that's a great need to be everything, prove that one doesn't
have to choose one or the other.
A says I'm narrow and will be narrower. Still it's what I say in my narrowness
that he'll remember. My sweetness such as it is - will vanish; although
his own, he'll remember as I do mine with Roy. Conciliation and apology
Having the strength of your perception means nearly everyone resents
you, except those who equally have the strength of their own.
No question of not trying to be a warrior. It's like wanting to be skilled
at what you do, or wanting to be and to feel skilled. It's balancing, like
surfing. No question of not wishing to be the little girl again, because
she transformed the world into itself, made it vivid with love and clarity.
It isn't clear to me whether I do in any sense have a choice. The question's
with me constantly. I'm saying that in a humble quiet little voice.
Andy and I put up paper streamers in Luke's room so it looks like the
underside of a mushroom - red, green and blue. Quietly, with piano music.
Cleaned everything. When it was very late decorated the tree.
Got up in the morning, early, to make cookies and the cake - it was lovely,
spending the morning in the kitchen peacefully but with great efficiency,
baking and listening to the radio. And then put on my best long dress as
my costume for Luke's little ceremony.
And then everyone came - what a mix of past and present for all of us
- Mossy and Isabel (Luke's commune friends), Jud (Roy's pen-pen-ultimate
ex), Roy, Lauderick, my solicitor and her lover!, Sarah, Andy, Dee and Anna,
and some other large and small friends, who ate all the cookies (two batches)
in such a trice that I got none, and drank wine and lemonade and refused
to play cat and mouse. Lauderick and Roy shored themselves up in a corner
with Luke's new 'lectric train. When it got dark we tipped Luke's bed upside
down for a table, collected all the children around it, and Luke waiting
in the centre place of honour. Andy turned the lights out and I brought
in the 3-layer chocolate cake with four fat red candles on it like blazing
table legs, and when we began to sing Happy Birthday to You Luke's face
had a look of delight on it that I've never seen before - pure brilliant
Christmas night, touring the Heath, moonlight, black tree shadows, distant
light windows like regularity of traffic sounds at a spaced fringe around
the black park, touring Luke's infancy, and all my five London years. The
paddling pool. The signal house. The supple flying spine of the Hill itself.
Mud. Two people talking on the top of the hill. Clarity of stars. Railings'
diagonal shadows on the path. Hoofprints. Branches of the path. The first
pond with its wooded slope Luke, Roy and I would rush down several springtimes.
Frost underfoot making the grass crisp and resistant. Stream's sudden sounds,
easily lost. Fair curve of the city, a pinkish cloud. Ear getting cold where
the silver pulls frost into it - I take the earring off, it slides onto
my key ring. Very quiet footsteps. Think at first about the future, then
as we complete the orbit down the east side of the central darkness, about
the past. The convent visible by its lights like a palace having a ball.
British Rail employees, plastic hats on, chatting on the pavement at the
end of College Lane. Women in narrow long skirts. Streets nearly empty.
This London won't be here to come back to. A says "English people are
still like foreigners to you aren't they."