Monday, February 9, 2009

the substance

This is life, the very substance of it. I have to keep reminding myself on days when every bit of action or inaction is accompanied by muscle pain: it all still counts – the fifteen-minute walk along a tarmac road to where the forest suddenly becomes thick and the path slopes down, and back again before it becomes too hard; the squeezed orange juice I drink first thing to help my body wake up after a long and difficult sleep with too many strange dreams (last night I lost my passport, my luggage, a folder containing everything I had ever written); and in particular, the people – the voices of my children, always sweet to my ear, the look on Mr. Signs’ face as he steps across the threshhold, life being busy and good for him these days, but always from wherever, he is pleased to come home.

Yesterday my neighbour-over-the-road who is also a friend came on the short walk with me. Afterwards I sat in her kitchen where she quickly made scones which we had with clotted cream and the home-made jam her daughter made for Christmas. A low carb regime is not realistic now, friendship and carbohydrates go together so well in the winter months.

I am revising old poems. This also, I remind myself, is of the essence. It is easy to feel that it doesn’t really count if one isn’t bashing out something new. It does, though – I have resurrected two or three poems that were just abandoned like lost causes because I thought I could never lick them into the right kind of shape. Instead of doing that, I am just pruning and adding a little here and there and remembering that an imperfect poem can do the job as well as (sometimes better than) the perfect one. Sometimes it is the imperfect poem that gets my attention, and I think: this is life, the very substance of it. I have to remind myself.


Zhoen said...

The imperfections let others come in.

Reading the Signs said...

Zhoen, I've come across the idea that a flaw in the pattern is the crack through which the divine can enter. I like this idea, though I think it refers to works where the flaw is a deliberate act.

Collin Kelley said...

Sorry to hear about the pain, but glad you are working on the revisions. That always helps me bring me back to focus.

Nicola said...

What you say reminds me of Leoanard Cohen's 'Anthem':

'Forget your perfect offering...There is a crack, a crack in everything, that's how the light gets in...'

Reading the Signs said...

Hi Collin, yes and it can be surprisingly satisfying - hoping to send some more things off soon.

Nicola, hello - well Leonard probably got the idea from the same place that I did. Me and Leonard, you know, go back a long way. I do love this song, thanks for bringing it to my consciousness again, I went straight to youtube and listened. Must put some more of his songs on my ipod.

Nicola said...

He was on my mind as someone has just given me a copy of his 'Ten New Songs'. If you haven't heard it, I would recommend it esp 'A Thousand Kisses Deep' and 'Alexandra Leaving', based on a poem by Cavafy. If I were as clever as you and others here, I could hide something under my name, but I've still much to learn on the technical side.

Reading the Signs said...

Right, Nicola, this is something I should make a point of listening to.

Just between you and me, I am not one of the clever ones in these parts. I don't know how to do the name-hiding thing either.

I even had help (blushing furiously here) with setting up the inital blog. (Hint).