This is the mystery of writing. While you may practice it sitting on your arse staring at the blank page or screen, it happens in other ways, too. The late Dermot Healy once said in a master class I attended that all reading is writing. Even when you are slogging in a very muddy garden performing the autumn clear up tasks, writing is happening on some back burner in the brain. We sleep and dream and wake wanting to write it down and unriddle those images that stir us and make us confront the secret anxieties of our waking life. The longer I am at this writing lark I realise that wielding the written word is a coping mechanism for life. Or perhaps, it is more accurate to say that the creative process is what configures hope, peace, faith and love. It’s just that writing is my preferred creative vehicle driven in this life time. Next one, can I please be a visual artist?
We are living in anxious times. It’s difficult to ignore even if you strictly ration the gloomy news. If you duck the gunk going on the macro, the micro news carried by friends, acquaintances and colleagues cannot be given the blind eye. In my Zoom creative writing class this past weekend I used a quotation from a Leonard Cohen song as the spark for our in-class writing.
Ring the bells that still can ring
Forget your perfect offering
There is a crack, a crack in everything
That’s how the light gets inLeonard Cohen, Anthem
So the spark for part of the session was about cracks and where the light can get in or out. That is going to be an ongoing exercise over the next few weeks. Even though 92% of the Irish population over the age of 12 is vaccinated, the HSE is still prepping for a “difficult winter.” Medical staff are exhausted, between Covid and the cyber hack of the HSE computer system. Most everyone is flagging emotionally, mentally or physically. Who does not know someone who is down with the ‘cold that is not Covid?’ Resiliance is feeling a bit threadbare. A friend’s 95 year old mother said she felt this past 18 months had been more difficult in many ways than World War II. People may have been dying left and right then, but you could have a cup of tea with a neighbour if you felt down. Or go dancing, while not dodging bombs.
Sunday morning, even though for the first time in a week it was not raining, I woke early and grabbed my notebook. I had a very leisurely few hours of writing ‘downtime.’ The Weekly Poem is the result. It is an abecedarian. It is similar to the acrostic, with lines beginning with a word in alphabetical order over the course of the poem. It was a new form for me to experiment with.
BTW, I recommend finding one day a week for dedicating a morning to just mooch, or lie abed late, or stare out the window for a full hour. It can help steady the centre of world that is fizzing, fizzling, and sending up frantic distress signals.
Sunday Morning Meditation A milky mist obscures next door’s field, and out beyond I hear geese honking, a wailing a long way from home. Can it be Canada is just their summer 'vacance'? Or is Lough Moneen their winter palace? What is home? I guess it depends upon how you look at it. I watch them fly east towards the mountain most days going forwards and back from the lough, a noisy gaggle in tight formation, expostulating. How can we transliterate their soundings? I look out as the morning gradually takes shape, mist receding over the murky horizon. Jays have not visited the garden of late. Are they seasonal, too? How is it that I do not know my year round neighbours and which are the blow ins from the Arctic? Listen. Even in October there is some birdsong playlist, several species making conversation. Or concert? Con-something or other. Together, notes make chilled jazz for a Sunday brunch ambience. Onyx-eyed magpie stares straight at me as I write behind the window’s glass, bemused or beseeching perhaps. What can a bird want of me? One likes to quantify symbolisms, let the bird’s shape signify, elevate it to messenger from realms beyond the mist, but by nine o’clock sunshine breaches this early autumn cloud. The world comes into sharp definition, the day’s light no longer totally eclipsed. But do you feel the chill underlying the light? Take the pulse of the unseen, the unheard, untold verities, a world of meaning craving anyone’s ear. Or eye. Or heart, offering itself up to be as revealing as the X-ray that lights up the shadows, showing everything in photographic negative when really what is needed is a very positive 'Yes!' To life. And yes to mourning. And yes to the lost, and the already gone missing. They are missed. Why did we never notice that once there was an ark, but now a Zoo is an asylum for very nearly, almost, listed, life extinct.