Back in November last year I was travelling to Greece with my partner and our van was broken into outside a supermarket. It was midday, we were travel-worn and didn’t notice until half an hour down the road. The bags that were snatched contained both of our lap-tops. Symbolic of years of investment as a self-employed teacher, this was devastating. But the bigger loss to me was two silk-covered journals containing at least two year’s worth of notes, sketched thoughts and poetry; basically irreplaceable and ostensibly of no meaning to anyone but myself. Though not a literal comparison, the base experience was like the severing a mother might feel on separation from her child. I felt lost. What I have found since is that I mostly enjoy writing at night, and what I’m drawn to write about is the beauty of darkness. It’s as though the stark reality of being robbed in broad daylight, of my belongings and expressions being scattered on the sunny roads of a strange town, has needed the shade and shadow in order to heal and find a way back into world. This is one of the poems that has emerged.
The room glows, there’s the warmth of cooking,
And the sweaty tug of a day’s labour on my back,
As my hand draws the door towards me as in a waltz,
And I alight from the house,
Into the embrace of night.
Gasping at that first draw of air,
My eyes tipping up to the tango of stars,
Body expiring the day into the dark velvet,
Touched by the soothing hands of air,
I stride into the street. It is hushed,
And yes there is the silence,
And the windows with their fabric eye-lids
Enclosing pictures of workers turning a gentle foxtrot towards bed.
But I am with the deeper sounds of the breeze,
Moving through leaves on the fingertips of branches,
Fluttering in the gutters as though plumping pillows for sleep.
And this breathing! As though my blindness
Is suddenly a doorway for the spirit to enter,
I am captured, I am breathed;
I am the dancing entrance to the cave
And the prayer that arises within it.
Then, as though making sense
Of all the voices of striving from the screen-lit room,
The domestic hiss,
A small voice flickers, and then flames
Through the walls of the cave, my mouth
And into the night sky…
If you want to hear it,
Step across the threshold tonight,
Peel back the curtain of your searching
And listen into the look of your eyes.