Sunday October 10, 2004
A long, quiet day. We have kept in touch by phone, mostly using text messages, and we finished with another late night exchange, Graham with his head under the covers to avoid disturbing his mother in the next room and me wandering round and round the house. It’s not an easy time.
I have been touched by the many messages and comments sent to us from all over the world, and Graham was a little cheered when I told him of them. Thanks from both of us.
And, other than that, we’re keeping on keeping on. We’d both of us so much rather be together but we have our separate tasks to perform for the present. Mine is a minor burden compared to Graham’s. In normal circumstances we share our problems and pains. Just now that’s not possible.
So, between long periods of sitting silent, gazing out of the window, I’ve gone back to thinking through my painting vs. poetry question. Not that it’s a competition, nor that the two are necessarily mutually exclusive. Some people can carry both in their lives without conflict; some are fortunate enough to have multiple outlets, each supporting and feeding the other. Me, I’m too obsessive for that. I shall return to poetry—it is a thing that I can do. I’ve learned from Thoreau’s basket-maker, though, and I do not expect payment for my labours.
In the course of my thinking I’ve looked for support in the places I’m accustomed to find it. To books of poetry, and on poetry. The most supportive thing I’ve found is a poem I last read in May 2001, a few months before the world changed, history swerved in its track, and I, like so many people, lost my way. Reading Frank O’Hara’s poem once more, I don’t think I shall need to come back to the question again:
Why I am not a painter
I opened my note-book at a clean page and started putting down words about things that seem important to me now. It felt strange after such a long break but the words are still there. All I need do is find the tube of glue I mislaid when I lost my way and learn how to paste them together once more.