Listening

Friday August 27, 2004

I’ve felt out of sorts today. There’s a smell of autumn in the air, and it ought to invigorate me. I’d like to be invigorated. Instead I’ve spent far too much time looking out of the window wondering where the summer has gone, where the year has gone, where…

Not a profitable and certainly not a sensible path to tread.

I dislike the feeling, at the end of a day, that I’ve wasted it. If I can’t pull something of value out of the day I tend to take it as some kind of failure. Silly attitude.

The truth is that if I choose to spend a day looking out of the window, chin resting on my fists, flirting with melancholy, then that’s my privilege. If I want to play games with the black dog, daring him to bite me, that’s my privilege, too. It’s one of the things that poets do.

When the words don’t come or, worse, when they cluster around the edge of conscious thought, whispering, taunting, tapping half-formed rhythms on the resonant boundary between dreams and the waking world, I’m filled with the urge to scratch, but lost for something to scratch upon. What scabs I had have all healed, leaving me in a comfortable, clean state, pink skinned and glowing with good humour. I’d give anything for a bad, ill-tempered mood just now.

Instead I find myself pottering about the house and garden, happy as the day is long, humming pleasant little tunes, and saying nice things to my co-habitants. Haven’t got a nasty thought in me.

Imagine that. A poet who can’t find a single nasty thought in him, no complaint, nothing important against which to rail. Sometimes I think I’ve taken positivism too far, that my preoccupation with facts and the observable has built an impermeable membrane between me and the restless seas of thought that made me what I am.

I was sitting at the table early this evening, caught fast in a thoughtless fugue state, happy and content as a cow chewing the cud.

“What’s that you’re humming?”, Graham said.

“I don’t know.”

“Sounds pretty. Is it Mozart?”

“Could be. I wasn’t really listening.”

“Well, try listening next time.”

Not a bad idea, that. I need to listen to myself a lot harder than I have been doing.

 

Landscape, Boston
 
Landscape, Boston
pencam photo

 

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