Archives for posts with tag: his dark materials

April 13th

I do love a quiet cafe, and here near the river it seems to have been constructed just for me. I was here six months ago with friends and I sat and sipped while wearing my cap and gown and the whole town seemed to know I’d just graduated and it was a day when I was full and filled the streets.

Today I am smaller though, today I’m head down, writing and I consider whether to walk near the river on my way home.

I’m on the corner of my town, near the oldest part and it’s my history that floods this place now. If I come out and turn right I’ll pass the Bridal shop. Of course, progress had swept in and now there’s no smell of taffeta, no swishing or sighs but a Bath Store. Those rooms I stood in, pinned and poised, nipped in at the waist, when I still had one, are now full of taps and waterfall showers, bespoke mirrors reflecting back the streets I used to know.

I’ve been drawn here today and it feels right. I’ve been swamped by old objects in recent weeks, buried under the weight of things that have flown. My home smells of dust, not just mine but fluff-coated trinkets from my Auntie’s house, her eighty-four piece dinner set is hiding in my cloakroom until I can find it a good home. And it’s the dust of her life and her choices that bring me near to the river now.

This cafe will close up soon so I need to move and that’s the point, it all seems to be about movement or the lack of it, about the flow and the essential swell of time.

And now I’ve made it to the riverside, to its rush and Ollie, a whipped up cocker-poodle gambols and charges around its owner’s legs, it’s wet and tousled, beyond free. I can hear the traffic, the roads being pummelled by rush hour wheels but I am soothed by the nylon poncho wearers with terriers, by toddlers at the end of holidays with scooters out for one last blast of fresh air.

The river isn’t bothered by anyone, the river finds its way despite the people and their problems. It churns, its wisdom far greater than my own.

And how quiet it is here, how I see people escaping, push chairs and new prams, pink babies lulled by the lapping and a booted up mother, smart blue coat and take away coffee in hand, strides by and she’s out. Her baby’s wrapped up warm and I feel myself unravel, here at the edge of the town I belong in, here with my head full of Auntie’s house of hoardings and my own stuff.

The river is good. It flips up plumes of white and despite its greyness, despite its thick green twisting form, it seems content.

The toddler in bike helmet and stabilisers trundles back the other way, releasing an end of day fractious cry and smart office workers, tired of the meeting room, take in the late afternoon air.

It’s busier for a moment, more people sneaking into my world but I’m cosseted, brushed by the river in my stillness and I move with its form.

I walk along in pace with it as though on a ship, as though wandering along the promenade deck of my boat. I look for fish, I anticipate their colours but I see none. The microscopic life is beyond my vision but I know it’s there, chundering, plummeting and pummelling, carried by the force.

And now further upstream the traffic fades and the here by the bridge where cars are forgotten I can only hear ripples and I think of a game of Poo Sticks.

I can see beneath the surface here, the smooth pebbles underneath, some resting some turning with the waves.

Today it’s a cold April afternoon, but under the thick bandaged sky, this river feels like home. I watch the water, how it find its way around the plants with no resistance.

April 16th

Back at home I think about the river. I can’t see it from here, I can only see the builder’s van next door, hear the sounds of renovation and old cupboards coming out. In my Auntie’s cupboards we found many things. Her photos from the life before widowhood slowed her down, her precious tins of bit and bobs, of ration books saved from the 1940’s, of faded letters from my Uncle in the war.

And it was all there, a life frozen in amber, a collection of ephemera that stretched back to when my mother was a girl. We took the vases and figurines over to my parents. The car smelled of old things, dust – caked things and grime.

Above all else it smelled of memory and before we left, I rummaged through yet another bin bag and found the photos she’d taken on our Wedding day. They were saved in a haphazard order, in a half full album, another piece of the past found in a chipped wooden chest in the corner of her unused back room.

I keep wandering back to the river in my mind. But I didn’t think about it back then when I hurried to pick up my dress, when the staff folded it into the boot of the car and laid it with care, like the placing of a baby in a cot, soothing it with love and a reassuring hand. And the river flowed nearby but I didn’t think about it as I bought one last cream and red silk flower for the name-place cards. And back at home sometime later, while I glued the final rose in place, and while my Aunty, miles away, prepared her luggage for the trip, the river flowed.

And it flowed over the years between then and now and it was never still. It slowed, it swelled, it stagnated in places but it never stopped in its relentless nature, in the wisdom of its form.

April 17th

The sun’s come out now. It came out back then and I wonder if it came out on my Auntie’s wedding day. Looking through her stuff I came across a small plastic Woothworth’s bag and folded away inside I found her receipts from over seventy years ago. The paper, yellowed but her handwriting still visible. Dress, belt, hat, gloves and stockings all itemised and pounds, shillings and pence added up. Numbers in frozen pencil marks for all the finery, for her day. And I think of my own, of the dress that hangs in my parent’s wardrobe and of my boots, somewhere under my bed. I peer through the fragile papers, almost too delicate to touch. I wonder how she felt an hour before the vows, I wonder if my mother helped her to get ready and I remember my long distance friend, strapping me into my bodice and the photographer waiting downstairs.

My Aunty kept many things, in fact she never threw anything away and though I didn’t really know her very well, through the wall she built around herself, through the things she hung onto to keep her safe. But I connected with her, in the thin bag of memories, in the silver paper flowers she tucked away.

The sun’s so bright now, like it was back then when I stood with my parents under a sap full tree before my mother and my friend left for the church, ahead of us.

I found my wedding favour tucked in a drawer, chiffon wrapped silk roses and a raspberry ribbon. There would have been rows of them, lined up on the crisp white linen by now, waiting for the guests to arrive in the afternoon.

I wonder if I’ll have a relative who’ll find this piece of my life, fifty years from now? And I am fluid today, I am the river that I’m far away from, as I sit by my window in the sun. And I am there, rustling into the car by my father, with the scent of lilies and I’m my Aunty on a distant June day with her sisters in tow and the life to come, ahead of us all.

I’ve spend a lot of time recently opening old stuff, peering into corners and brushing dust. I feel dustful, I feel coated and caked like the patina of an antique and I am covered in age and her stories.

And as the younger me is whisked to the church, I take my mind to the river, to its force, where dust has no chance to settle, where it renews with no resistance, where it oozes with ease and grace.

And I think about a book I found in my Auntie’s back room, amongst the upturned chairs and tea sets, next to the box of Christmas bows and packs of unopened napkins. I found an old paperback.

There is wisdom in clearing, I have found, in releasing the things you no longer need. But under the weight of the hours some things will always remain. Silk flowers and fragile papers, floating around me like the flotsam on the river, linking us to the movement of time and a permanent reminder that we were there.

The paperback was titled Light in the Dust and I see dust particles dance in the light and I see photons of energy flow through the dark as the sun sparkles up from the river.

xxx

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I always liked compasses, as I child I coveted their slick shined domes, arrows twitching mysteriously. I can’t see them from my youth but I know they were there. I can only see the recent one, bought in a gift ship at end of a walk, half for our son as he chose the green one. And the image flips me to another shop buying up bits while you rode the mud together and I met you both by the front low wall as you screeched up and leaned by the side. I remember the tyre marks on the back of his top worryingly strong and clear but he’d only been leaning up the wheel as you stopped for juice from the little carton with a ‘stwor’ and he was smaller than now and the wheel was big. And I can see you bombing off from the carpark up the dusty road while I wandered to the shop and once, just once, I came with you and stood by the wooden bike hire shack, trying to find the one for the fit and wibbled and wobbled with you through the undergrowth, by the station and booted it over gravel before my knees gave in.
And my compass banged up and down on my small red rucksack, the one I bought for the Alps from the old sports shop where my hiking boots were a size too big to fit my fuzzy socks and our son wasn’t made and my jacket was red and yours blue. The rucksack lasted on all the walks, a tardis of treasures that you both teased me about, in the forest, in the teashop, warm butter and china mugs, laughing at me as you ticked off the things I’d carry while I triumphantly pulled out the ubiquitous banana. And the table was wide old walnut, just up the road from the horses where you clopped down the lane and I followed.

August 10th

In this world a proper summer has returned, like those from 70’s of my childhood when you were back in the North and I sweltered in the South.

I wake, the overnight fan blows strong and loud, its confident whirring sounds like a plane. I’m up high somewhere in metal hurtling but directed, the pilot knows where he’s going.
On land in my bed I’m muddled in memories, the morning before the birthday meal, tipping up the old camp bed and laughing in the hours before the quotes. The quotes around a different table at the last meal, the last Sunday, four days before this one. Rushing back from school now to the start of the end and although I know where the dates are leading me, I’m sticking with the thought of flight, watching us in my little room pack and prepare for this journey. Younger eyes knowing much less, a different world view from this Unknown.

I bounce all over in the turbulence finding things that I’d forgotten, peering through old windows and looking carefully through the fragile and delicate, the solid and permanent, the moments of our world.
The engine’s strong, directed. I may go into the cockpit have a word with the pilot. I’d like to know what he does but maybe I’m not allowed, maybe I have to stay here in my seat, bump along the air pockets and look down, observe the scenery with awareness be in the moment of flight.

He has his altimeter, I have my alethiometer still heavy, strange, a precious responsibilty. But it was given, this gift, in its rust velvet sack, the chord golden and twisted.
I know when to hide it, I know when to fetch it out, to tap its crystal screen, watch the needles spin and twitch, then feel. Feel where the symbols are pointing, lift up into their meaning, let the images dance and shift until they make sense.

Then I move, then I act, reading the symbols, wrapped in fur on my journey North. The snow bites as I follow bear prints. It’s cold, it’s confusing but I’m learning through the dials.

Guided, driven.
In this plane, on this journey.
Here in my bed on this day, drifting and watching. The fan burrs out across the room. I’m lying flat watching ceilings, just like back then.

Such a strong sense of travel.
I am everywhere. I grab the compass.

Time to get up.

August 14th

I remember being lost in Valencia with our end of trip verve we branched out and split from the herd. Our insurance policy was the guide ordered taxi who would whisk through new streets to the cathedral. With a tour pick up from there with bright buses to show us the way, we couldn’t go wrong… So we peeled off and piled in our rattle trap taxi, bouncing on the low soft sprung seats, our son unsure of the steps we were taking but we reassured him, we had instructions, we knew what we were doing.

The driver dropped us in his appointed place, I can see it now, light, heaving, chaotic with tourists and sights and though the cathedral shouted out to us from its gothic spires, it was quickly obvious we weren’t at the right side. Amongst concerns from our son about what we would do if we missed the boat and all our possessions sailed without us, we hid our concerns and stumbled into tourist information. In broken English with biro stabbed maps we grappled to find the direction and as our clock ticked down we rushed and flustered to a different street, clutching our son’s hot hand, to find the boarding point we needed later.

In our noticeable relief you found an outside table serving Guiness while confident of our directions, we plotted where you were in relation to the shops and spires, straight up passed the fountain and swung our rucksacks in the glare of Spanish sunshine to find a fairytaled sweetshop. The owner who appeared like Mr Ben from behind a twinkling curtain helped me part with the last of the euros in exchange for a plastic cement mixer loaded with marmallows (such an obvious souvenir). And though the clock ticked we didn’t care because we knew where we were, we knew where you were sat and we knew where we were going.

Sweets in hand, under the loud blue sky we made our way back to you and in the carefree moments before the jostle of bus, we took a final photo, you and our son by the fountain, shining into the light, him in holiday brightness and you in the same alluring pose from that first ever photo all those hours ago, from the world before I knew you, when you sat infront of Niagra in those vile and zany lemon shorts.

We caught the bus in time despite our fear, despite out foolish challenges, despite losing our way for a while. Travelling, testing ourselves, finding answers on our path.

Two and half years ago tonight I was shoved off the path, knocked down and smashed my compass.
Still clutching our son’s hot hand as we fell inexorably towards tomorrow.

August 15th

It’s raining today, I can hear its hiss through these thin windows. The drops are quite uniform, speckled on my glass, varieties of wishes upside down in each one, a world turned on its head under the breaking grey of sky.
My back’s playing up, just like 13 years ago in the month before I gave birth. In today’s careful steady steps I remember those movements, the inching along and I flip around to the memories locked away.

Our son is messing with the sprinkler, firing droplets into the trees. The sun pushes through, I tell him he may make a rainbow as the water flys and dances in photons. He tells me ‘Yes, but you need to sit inside the raindrops to see it…’

Pointing towards Polaris, through the rain and rays.

x

Ps
And now a word from our sponsor – our son…
Hello viewers of my Mum’s blog. I need your input on my next post. Please look back at my post called The Final Frontier,

https://thetaoofgrief.com/2012/06/17/the-final-frontier/

pick out your favourite episode, then leave it as a comment on this post. I will then describe it in a much detail as I can, in my next post entitled
‘To Boldly Go Into As Much Detail As Possible’
Thank you:-)

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