I once had someone tell me they thought I should have been named Meta, but its far less funny now that a company of horror has renamed itself as such.
I spent last weekend admiring the millions of forms that cacti take, at the largest cacti nursery on Sicily. 20 hectares of beauty. The forms and structures, the repetition, the solutions for damage, amazing creatures. Tray after tray of seedlings, babies, toddlers, all the way to the ancients. The sun was relentlessly hot, Siracusa burned, though we tried to quench it with granita and mastic, late nights, and excellent conversations. The sea wending along fortified walls, broken and abandoned buildings, the water system built by Greeks thousands of years ago, the world slipping between time and place.
40C is too hot for me, though perhaps in my life time I shall not have a choice on this. My body burns, inside and out. The sun on my skin is a disaster, and I never feel quite free enough or quite safe enough to live a rambling nocturnal existence. If I did, perhaps I would. There is a sultriness to the hot nights and the need to strip down to just a loose dress that flaps in the wind. Like children, perhaps for the first time since I was a child, in the dusty heat of a late afternoon we pulled out the hose to cool us, howling sharply at the chill, standing mostly naked on ancient brick, shaking like puppies and evaporating in the heat, barefoot on the earth. Barefoot on the earth. I am reminded it has been a very long time since I was coated in dust and sea salt and the visceral desire of, well, anything. Yet here I am, here I was, for less than 48 hours, soaking in the ways that life has teeth.
I wrap myself in cotton wool and layer on the thick dentist’s radiation apron as I re-approach the life I am living in London. Cozy, numb, overdressed, awkward in shape and movement, unhealthy in sentiment, picking my way through old streets of desiccated grime. My mind travels, my body sleeps.
It has been two years since I damaged my leg in a way that limits my movement, that causes daily pain, that sometimes, I think, is reminding me I am aging and sometimes, I think ,it is telling me to run faster and harder. The personification of a body part as an external being may be odd and likely, in the opinion of the woman who pokes me with needles, a bad idea. For a while I called the knee, the center of the troubles, ground zero of immobility, Marx. I tried to convince Marx to move out, going so far as to tug his small winged body out of my knee and carefully deliver him to a grandfather tree in a forest. Sometimes this seems to have worked, sometimes now I see a large white owl fly past–in London, and wonder what precisely is going on.
Marcello uses the word peculiar, which I shall add to my collection. London has added a few, dodgy I like quite a bit. Literally (the word), I despise. Also cheeky. W is a fan of fortnight, and I particularly like the word trousers. The word and the sentiment, which seems rather different from the US English meaning of pants. Something with a bit more swish to one’s walk, wearing trousers. I am not currently wearing trousers, but just the act of writing of them, I wish to put some on and sashay about the house. New words are like small wet stones, they feed my thirst, but do not solve the problem.
Do we have poetry? This is a good question. The soft pleasure of Ólafur Arnalds seems to suggest that this is a necessity for life, but the cotton wool and lack of trousers and the cocoon don’t seem to think that poetry will emerge. But how can we not have poetry when the wind is poetry and the clouds, the sky, the sea. How can I have anything but the sense of sublime bliss when edged up to the wilds and seeking the words that sing in the air, capturing them for just one small moment before letting them back to be free. Self-replicating language of love and place, of pleasure and movement and joy.
I am reminded I best escape this cement block that feels so little wiggle, so little wave-like motion of place, as though history is so heavy upon it, the lower levels cannot move, and the upper are overly observant, and even the words wish to sleep until later days or better days or days they cannot name.
I can remember the words and the beauty and the pleasure. I can travel in my mind to such places and I can suck on the stones of peculiar and trousers and dodgy and lick the ancient dust off ancient walls to inhale the sentiments still stuck in the pocks. I can wait this out, the stagnancy, because I am not alive without these ways of being, and I am not dead, so surely they await me, and I am soon to arrive, fluid and unbroken, to eat the past and dream the future, to write the motion and the skies, to sing the wind, to explode into a thousand tiny shards of everything.