Tuesday, September 09, 2008

9th September 2008

I was walking to the bus stop this morning to meet my mother-in-law when I suddenly remembered the first time I felt this dread: when I was starting out as a writer, and frightened and appalled at the kind of writer I wanted to be. Its as if this current project has taken me right back to the beginning again, to a place where I have to relearn everything...To be sure I need to confront my feelings of loss and my fear of death...

I had agreed to take her to an eye appointment in the hospital She suffers from diabetes, and they wanted to check her sight. They were intending to put eye drops in her eyes to dilate the pupils, she had been warned it might make her vision fuzzy, and this had made her anxious.

As it turned out the eye drops caused her few if any problems at all. Her difficulty was in finding the eye pavilion, which she’d never been to before, and then finding her way to her appointment once inside it. I was happy to help with that; she is beginning, now, to find new information quite hard to process and it often leaves her afraid and bewildered.

I’d happened to glance at some poems I’d agreed to translate for a friend; and I could work on these in my head while we were waiting. And this familiar task saved me from my bewilderment.

Which returned when I finally got home about lunchtime. I kept putting off work. And when I did, I got nowhere.
I typed up the translations to reassure myself I had not altogether lost my feel for words; and when I still got nowhere I went back to the poems I am writing for the “Hidden City”.

Like the play, they seemed empty, embarrassing, absurd.

I sat at my mum’s desk and thought: this is the end. I simply can’t write any more. That’s what it felt like, not as melodramatic as it sounds, just a quiet certainty.

And this is death.
This is what it feels like: this grey blankness.
I said: it has to come some day.
And I began to cook supper. And eat, in a mechanical kind of way, a supper that really was not good at all.
And then change, and put on my make-up ready for the dance class.
It all felt a bit like a wake: and afterwards I felt so tired.

I was ten minutes into the class when I realised I’d put my dress on inside out.
On the way to the loo to change it, I suddenly realised what I needed to do: to the play, and to the poem, to make them work again.

And I don’t think I will forget.
But that’s how it is, constantly: insight squeezing out through a tiny side door when my conscious mind has stopped looking.


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