I’ve been clearing out boxes of my mementoes, in lieu of our upcoming move. I’m not a hoarder generally, but the one thing I hold on to is paper: letters, postcards, photos (when we used to print them out!), ticket stubs, event programmes. I’ve got shoeboxes labelled per year, and each one is brimming over with words. We’ve moved so many times in the past decade and I’ve dragged these ten or so boxes around the country with me each time, so today I decided that enough is enough.
The thing about creativity is that it doesn’t wait until it’s convenient. As a writer, I’ve always had visions of taking myself off to a villa in Tuscany (surrounded by lavender fields), where I’d live in solitude for a few months and complete my bestselling novel. There’d be peace and time to write, and no distractions.
But that’s not how it works.
It’s not like I haven’t been writing, because I have. Just not here.
Little poems have come to me in fragments, repeating sentences in my brain like a bird knocking on the inside of my head, desperate to be let out. They aren’t necessarily good poems but the good thing about my current stage of life is that I’ve started to care a bit less. I still seek affirmation, but that is now infused with a healthy dose of not trying to please absolutely everybody, all of the time. This feels intensely liberating.
So many feelings, but so difficult to express them. They sit bundled up beneath her skin, like flies trapped against a window. Like a tangle of white cords, with nowhere to plug into. Is this how non-writers feel? What do they do with these feelings, if they don’t write them down? Do they disappear back into the body, like a pimple that isn’t popped? Poison sent back down into the self again, because the carrier does not have the means to release it.
It feels like we’ve reached a phase in this pandemic where we have nothing much to say to each other. We started out all cocky and optimistic – things were a novelty. Let’s bake guys! Let’s exercise! Help others! Share memes! But with the end of the long Easter weekend, everything just feels extremely…meh.
We’re starting to get on each others’ nerves. We’ve watched all the things we wanted to. Read all our good books. Work may be trickling in, or not at all, and we’re starting to worry about what the future holds. And then enter home schooling, which began for me today, bringing with it a whole other set of frustrations and challenges.
Put away the glare of worlds within those squares of light
Because we need things we can touch
We need the metallic smell of yeast
The touch of dough in the webs of our hands
The comfort of butter
We need to light candles
on our tables and in our hearts
We need the Autumn sun to leak out of the sky
and into our skin
We need to notice how the clouds are in pieces
How the moon is a rind
Watch the leaves gather in silent groups
as the trees are suddenly unburdened
We need hugs, warm ones. Long ones.
To breathe each other in and to rest there for a bit
Because now we can.
We need to hear voices
Ones we love and miss
Hear their fears and their joys
because we hadn’t really been listening
We need to press pen to paper
Trace words with our fingers
Make the music
Paint the colours
We need soil in our fingernails
To press a seed into the warmth
To watch that green shoot heading
upwards towards the light
Put away that rectangle, which reflects where you are not.
Because we need things we can touch.