The Girl Who Loved Rain.
I remember the girl in year nine
who used to stare through the window
at the rain
when the class was doing silent reading.
They would all be reading their books
but she would be reading the rain,
its steady rhythms
stroking her as if
she were a cat.
*pic courtesy of Unsplash
I like nothing better at night or on languid afternoons
than to curl up on the couch with Tessa Hadley
reading me one of her tales,
familiar yet fresh, cozy yet curdling at the core
like a Victorian murder mystery
This book of cautionary tales has languished on the Express Shelf of the library for weeks while more modestly titled books alongside it have whizzed off the shelf in days.
How to explain popularity?
How does it feel to be wall-flowered?
What’s that do to a book’s ego?
What’s not to like in the title, ‘Cautionary Tales for Excitable Girls’?
I was half tempted to borrow it myself except it would only confirm the chief librarian’s opinion of me.
I tried to imagine what one of these tales would be called, what it would be about, even how one of them would begin, but I just couldn’t. Can you?
I have been called an ostrich for burying my head in the sand,
a mole for burrowing down to my zone of creativity,
a creepy lizard by a former girlfriend,
a snail for withdrawing inside my shell when I watch TV,
but best of all a bear, Johnny Bear, a much loved character
from my partner’s childhood, who lived with Grump, his mother
in Yellowstone Park in the book by Ernest Thompson Seton
which I am now devouring like the bookworm I am.
*which animals have you sometimes been compared to?
Today on my front doorstep a bundle,
tied in coloured string, wrapped in cellophane,
5 New Yorkers, a Paris Review and
two School Magazines with my poems in,
the Covid backlog I thought would never come.
It felt like all my Xmases had come at once,
enough binge reading to last me till the Big Day.
I was chatting with Worms the other day about Proust,
about his masterpiece, ‘Remembrance of Things Past’
and how neither of us had read it; Worms even found
the name ‘Proust’ intimidating; and I thought how many
of the world’s best known works I have never read,
like Longfellow’s ‘Hiawatha’, Melville’s ‘Moby Dick’,
even Shakespeare’s ‘Titus Andronicus’ and even though
everyone has heard of it, who’s read Dickens’ ‘Little Dorrit’?
There’s even a short story by David Gilbert devoted to
the George Elliot book that no one I know has ever read,
and few have heard of: ‘Adam Bede’. There must be others.
*can you think of any?
* have you read any of these books?
* what has put you off reading them?
pic of Proust courtesy of Wikipedia
I was reading about Dallas Wiens who, while working inside
an hydraulic arm, brushed against powerlines while painting
a church roof: how God sizzled through him but burnt
his face away; the word ‘debridement’ came up, the practice
of removing dead tissue, fat, muscle so a transplant could take place;
and I thought, hey! isn’t that’s what it’s like when you’re burnt
by fast and furious love? the high voltage thrill and fury that knocks
the heart sideways and scars it till the scorched pieces can be debrided,
a lovely and awesome word that suggests a young bride being ripped
from your side: ‘debrided’ , oh wow!
Looking through the pages of my commonplace book
I paused to take a look at the posts I had copied down
in 2020, the ones that had brought me much pleasure,
that made me pause, take a measure of my life:
here they are without fear or favouritism, in the order
‘Birch’ and ‘Boring’ by Beth
‘Nimmitabel’ and ‘My Suburban Horror Movie’ by Out of the Cave
‘The Old Dog’ and ‘the length some people will go to kill butterflies’ by D R Bogdan
‘How to Survive as a Mental Patient’ and ‘Wait for Me’ by Sarcastic Fringehead
‘Some People are Trees’ by Jewish Young Professional
‘No’ and ‘Monochrome; by Cathy’s Real Country Garden
‘Watching Candles Burn’ and ‘Just Came for the Burger’ by Mark Tulin
“Sweet Sundown’ by Michael Jordahl
‘Carpet of Frosty Leaves’ by Ulle Haddock
‘Testing’ by Hobbo
‘Here I Am’ by Boromax
* what were some of your favourites in 2020?
I am reading a short story but it is not making any sense.
Call me ‘old-fashioned’ but I think a story should make sense.
Maybe it’s because it’s told in a goulash of styles.
But the writer is an accomplished writer.
Does that mean I am not an accomplished reader?
Can a writer be over-confident, cocky? If so, can a reader?
Maybe it’s my mindset.
Maybe I should loosen up like good old George, slouch around in the ungrammatic, delve in the demotic, savour the stew
- have you read any books or seen any films that made little sense? did you continue with them anyway?
- what makes an accomplished reader?