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Friday, 8 August 2014

Everything changes (but nothing does)

During my first year at Edinburgh I discovered Basildon Bond letter paper and also blank white postcards from the post office. I would copy out poems and stick them on the fridge once a week. Then I'd remove the old ones and put them on my room door. Sometimes people would be caught standing before my door, lost in reading some line or other. 

I guess I did that because I had to talk to someone - even if the words weren't mine, and they were only scratched onto a page. These bits of paper moved several times with me and are probably still in a box somewhere, in my storage room in Taipei. So much of myself is in there. 

In my fourth year I posted them on the living room door (I used to work in the living rom). Every time I was exhausted by my work, I would get up and walk to that door, stretch, and read some poems to myself. Then I'd ask if there was anything else in the world I'd rather be doing, and the answer would be "no," so I'd buckle down again. (those were good simple days).

When I fell in love with Richard I was surprised by the fact that he read Jean Rhys. I was equally surprised by the fact that he didn't read poetry. I began to copy out poems again, but this time they were given to him for journeys away from home, or stuffed into his pidge once a day to be discovered there when he came into college. 

I recently began this habit again and it's amazing how the tactile sensation of copying out words that speak to me still calms my mind. 

Here's one I discovered long ago. 

When the little devil, panic,
begins to grin and jump about
in my heart, in my brain, in my muscles,
I am shown the path I had lost
in the mountainy mist.

I'm writing of you.

When the pain that will kill me
is about to be unbearable,
a cool hand
puts a tablet on my tongue and the pain
dwindles away and vanishes.

I'm writing of you.

There are fires to be suffered,
the blaze of cruelty, the smoulder
of inextinguishable longing, even
the gentle candleflame of peace
that burns too.

I suffer them. I survive.

I'm writing of you.

- Norman MacCaig, "Of You"

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