working, reading, waiting for elements to come together, as patiently as possible – I have little news to share. So for now, just the rare snow here in the city of Glasgow.
A poem for the weather, for how it links us to our own memories. Forceably, at times. Wherever, whenever you are, there the world is. Sleeting at you. Rustling under you. Looming its mountains over you bracken brown, or ice-white or black. We live in the weather, in a way we do not live in the moment. Poem in a post by Tamar Yoseloff on the lovely Invective Against Swans
Times Like Places
There are times like places: there is weather
the shape of moments. Dark afternoons
by a fire are Craster in the rain
and a pub they happened on, unlooked-for
and welcoming, while a North Sea gale
spat spume at the rattling windows.
And most August middays can take him
to the village in Sachsen-Anhalt,
its windows shuttered against the sun
and a hen sleeping in the dusty road,
the day they picked cherries in a garden
so quiet, they could hear each other breathe.
Nor can he ever be on a ferry,
looking back at a boat’s wake, and not think
of the still, glassy morning off the Hook,
when it dawned on him they didn’t talk
in sentences any more: didn’t need to,
each knowing what the other would say.
The worst was Aberdeen, when they walked
the length of Union Street not speaking,
choking up, glancing sideways at each other,
but never at the same time. Black cats
and windy bridges bring it all back,
eyes stinging. Yet even this memory
is dear to him, now that no place or weather
or time of day can happen to them both.
On clear winter nights, he scans the sky
for Orion’s three-starred belt, remembering
whose arms warmed him, the cold night
he first saw it, who told him its name.
– Sheenagh Pugh
– you’ll catch a sky like this over Embra. A gloaming sky. A few solitary clouds like this, delicate but moving fast.
If you’d like something to read, whatever hour of the day it is with you, I’ve written the next installment in a series of essays on The Female Gaze recapping Supernatural. One essay per episode per season (of which there are currently 8 – 8 essays). They do contain spoilers but I’m trying to dig into aspects (as well as problematic sides) provided in each episode.
Here’s a taster of the current essay:
You’ve thought it before. People have sung of it: Our lives could be very different to how they are now. Those tiny twists in fate accrued over time and became a part of you. That coin you dropped and didn’t stop to pick up. That spelling mistake on a job application. That face whose glance you chose to return with a smile. That time you pulled the bottle from your lips and made it stay put down.
You might not want things to be any different, but it doesn’t stop you thinking about how it could have been.
Aside from these essays, I’m trying to summon the energy to alter an essay on the Aethiopika, though the priority this week seems to be to edit Dear Friends and Gentle Hearts down to a sharp white point. I really want to tackle the long essay – stirred to do so by the kindness and insight of Chris J Rice – but whenever I sit down, it’s the novel I am dragged to. Make it better, make it lighter. Why are you taking so long with what will be a little clawed snow hare of a thing when it’s done?
My friend C gave me some advice that kicked me into action. Very simply, it was to number chapters, rather than write ‘chapter one’ etc as I had been doing. Such a small change made the text feel immediately fresher. And highlighted the soft squashy lines (and whole paragraphs) that needed peeling down. Revelation. My eyes furring up as I struggle a page at a time, into the night.
So while I grow tired often and sometimes feel creatively spent, or isolated, I know that there is a community of writers and wise souls. Virgils, yes. But not leading me down to the inferno. Writing back from their own spaces, waving across the ravines. Thank you, all.
A love letter to Edinburgh once again (see love letters 1,2,3 and 4). Now a year since D and I have been living here, and we have felt that time, it has not rushed itself. Every moment felt and lived and hoped through.
In Greyfriar’s Kirkyard, peaceful and full of herbs and stones of course.
A detail of an angel from a gravestone on the kirk wall.
And the sky darkening, pinkish against the solidity of Pleasance houses.
And lastly, I recorded a sad little poem about building something, about memory and waiting. Not so much about Edinburgh, but tangentially related to coming back and to leaving Scotland itself. you can listen to it here.
I don’t know what type of flowers these are (wild garlic perhaps) – they are growing along a side path to a wealthy and hidden mews/servants’ quarters housing development across the road from Loch Lomond. My friends and I were staying at the adjacent youth hostel, a former mansion built in 1866 and given to the people by a group of American G.Is who stayed there during the war and fell in love. The grounds are gorgeous in that slightly overblown, just clipped back into order sort of a way. The mansion itself – well, that’s for another post. But here is a picture in the grandness of the dark:
There is something a little unsettling about flowers growing in the dark, I think. Though they do all the time, those which cannot entirely close up their petals. I’m thinking of boundaries again. 10.30pm. Dusk, when these pictures were taken, is so long, it is like another form entirely – day, night, dusk, dawn, each given their full place in Scotland, in Summer.
It’s something I missed while living in the states. NYC in Summer is the most accepting or kind at dusk, but this time is contracted, happens at 8 or so. The gloaming is an unsteady time when everything is beautiful in a poignant way.
Perhaps I’m embuing it with symbolism equivalent to the Cherry Blossom season in Japan, I do not know enough to say (only that I would love to go to Japan, to the mountains, to see early morning blossoms falling slowly in a moment that seems to extend into infinity and is in fact so brief). Perhaps there should be a little light mist or smirr too. Perfection is sometimes an element of the weather.
More on the mock-castle and adventures in hillwalking another time, when I’ve fully recovered from the whole thing.
We walk the dusk, the gloaming, cuffing The Meadows, watching the sliver/slipper of the moon evading all attempts to capture it on film. We walk past the gable-ended houses, the closes, the fringes of the university.
We note the places where the light gathers like dust in the overshadowed courtyards.
We see the old hairdressers that has been there since I can remember, Violet in the violet hour. Kitsch becoming something else, more elusive. An old photo of yourself as a child, with relatives now dead, a time you can’t remember.
We walk past modernity, symbol of the New Scots settling in. The lighted windows, the rushing cars.
Above are the gardens you cannot get in to, looking out on the field (below) that belongs to everyone.
We cut a path into the new development on the park, the looming offices, mostly empty. All lights on here, ready for some bright future pre-recession Edinburgh seemed to hold.
And there is space for the dark too. And it all soon passes, and we walk back to our flat, and into our own box of warmth and light, however parceled and temporary.
“What are days for?