I’m sure I must have said this before, but I have for some time now had this notion that there is a kind of black hole into which things disappear: mainly single socks and ballpoint pens – the good ones, I mean, not the kind we all have lying around that have run out of ink and for some reason refuse to be discarded. Of course it is annoying and inconvenient but I have more or less resigned myself to the idea and adapted accordingly, replenishing stock when necessary or just wearing socks that don’t match and writing important messages with the lime-green crayon that has stuck by me when other implements have dematerialised. But I can’t help noticing that the black hole is becoming more aggressive. It has begun to swallow umbrellas, kitchen utensils and books that I wish to refer to – and yes, before you ask, I do know what day of the week it is, the name of the Prime Minister and how to spell antidisestablishmentarianism. And much good may it do me. I want my socks, my pens and my books - particularly those. The black hole can keep the umbrellas if it wants. So it is that I come to my shelves looking for a slim volume by the poet Peter Abbs whose reading I went to last night, in order to reproduce a poem of his here, but I can’t. I will have to wait until either the black hole, as occasionally happens, spews it out again or I decide to replace it.
I come away from a good poetry reading feeling this: that poetry is bread. That language matters, is essential, must constantly be revitalised, must be vital if we are to survive with souls intact. And our minds: if all words are hijacked by accountants, men in suits, Sun newspaper and slogan merchants, what can we know or apprehend and what are the consequences for the life of the imagination? As an activity too, the making of poetry is good for a body, as I have witnessed many times in myself and in others. I haven’t written a poem for a while, and suddenly I miss it, that activity. I have been working on my prose project – (ok, novel, but I’d rather say that in a whisper) and it is writing, but it is a different kind of writing. “Do both,” I hear you say – and I should and would, but feel I can’t until I’m securely established in this project, and that time has not yet come.
It is le weekend. Mr. S. is attending his art class, the cat has been dining on a bluebird, there is bread to be got and milk, washing powder – stuff. Tomorrow our daughter comes for a late celebration of my birthday (son being back at university), and we will go out for Sunday lunch. The trees are almost turning, there is gold in all the green, and life is good, sweet and rich. Who can blame it for asking so much of me? What, in any case, would I hold back? Black holes, I defy you. (Give me strength!)