Southerly Buster

By Vita Forest

 

In the pool at dusk

shafts of sun break diagonal

through glitter-edged clouds hunkering in from the west.

I float in the pool and note how

Max swims like he talks

thrashing and splashing

dives designed to disturb the peace

with the biggest amount of bluster.

Lucy examines blue-shelled snails

strolling on slick black rock at water’s edge

peels one off and peers at its secret inside suction system

puts it back and it trundles on.

We burrow our fingers in the soft swaying strands of moss

green and warm from the sun

Alive.

 

The clouds rear over the hills and rain falls hard.

You almost can’t believe the change

The downpour

The ‘steady drum of rain’

Bucketing, pouring, pelting, crashing, smashing,

as I sit safe on the balcony

cocooned in my cage

a cage barred with falling water.

 

Then it’s over.

As quick as it began.

The world smells fresh and green

and I watch a man climb out of his car and

perform a magic trick

whipping off his boardies

in public

under a tucked-in towel

slinging them in the boot and

driving away.

And I wonder

could I manage that manoeuvre?

 

The blue is peering down through the grey again

at the black dog racing along the beach

kicking up clods of yellow sand as it goes.

This week

By Vita Forest

Isaboe “helping” me with school reports


I have been

WRITING 


READING 

  • The charming quirks of others by Alexander McCall Smith
  • Rivers of London by Ben Aaronovitch
  • An American Tragedy by the very eloquent David Remnick

FINISHING a course on Dyslexia

LISTENING to Recomposed by Max Richter: Vivaldi – The Four Seasons with the light out, as the sun set, with a cup of tea, as I try to 

FIND some sense in this crazy world

This week

By Vita Forest

img_09041

This week I have been

WRITING A gypsy caravan, a fire balloon and a Baby Austin

READING Harry Potter and the Cursed Child by J.K. Rowling, Jack Thorne and John Tiffany

DRAWING in sunglasses in the Sydney Botanical Gardens with my lovely Sketch club.

ATTENDING Classic Flow at Barangaroo with five hundred other yogis (yoga to live classical music – ah bliss!)

img_09051

LISTENING to the grand piano and cello at Classic Flow and then the surprising addition of a wonderful choir (I had my eyes closed and didn’t see them tiptoe on!)

WATCHING Gloria at the Griffin Theatre

EATING Flan Catalan with Saskia Mmmm!

ENJOYING some beautiful spring weather

img_09031

 

 

This week

By Vita Forest

img_0839-4

This week I have been

WRITING Justify

READING

  • Greene on Capri by Shirley Hazzard
  • Tell the truth, Shame the devil by Melina Marchetta (well the last two days anyway – don’t normally buy “just released” books but it is MM).

RESTING due to being absolutely floored by the flu.

VISITING the doctor. Twice.

LOOKING after my sick children too.

WATCHING The Bridge (Swedish/Danish version) on DVD (not with the kids).

CUDDLING up with the kitty cat gals.

SOLVING puzzles in my Codewords book.

SLEEPING a lot

Possessed by who?

By Vita Forest

IMG_0603[1]

Earlier in the week I finished rereading Possession by A.S. Byatt, a book I first discovered over twenty years ago.  I don’t know when it was I last read it, but I can kind of date it by which character I related to at the time. I love it when this happens – when you read the same book at varying points of your life and it has completely different meanings; new events, distinct characters, alternate lines just jump out at you, depending on what is going on in your own life.  (I have written about this before with Tim Winton’s Dirt Music as the book in focus).

In my last reading, it was the early Roland Michell I related to.  Roland, an “Ash scholar” (Randolph Ash being a fictional Victorian poet), finds a tantalising scrap of letter from Ash to an unknown lady poet, thus beginning this literary mystery that moves between the 1860s and 1980s, using poems, fairy tales, letters and prose.  Despite the high level of Roland’s education, he survives on small grants and piecemeal work handed out by those with more power.  At the start of the novel, he is spending his time examining another’s work and living unhappily with his unhappy and disappointed girlfriend Val, who supports them financially through her own disappointing work.  They are a couple that should not be together but are bound by guilt, emotional dependency and fear.  (In fact, I think I can quite clearly date when I last read this book…)

But by the end of the novel, a new life beckons to Roland, full of optimism, independence and opportunity, a new relationship (that works) and his own words.  Unlike Blackadder, his old boss in the “Ash Factory” (as Val dismissively calls the Ash scholars working in the British Museum), for whom the study of Ash had effectively crushed any ambition to find his own creative voice, Roland discovers that he has things to say and the desire to say them.  At this reading, I related to this second Roland, discovering the joy of writing, of his own ideas, unbound or unconnected to someone else’s work – the Optimistic Roland.

And then there are the women.  This time, the ideas of Christabel La Motte, the independent, determined 19th Century poet (again created by Byatt), who shunned conventions in order to live an independent artistic life, also resonated.  She is fiercely protective of her artistic space, of having the time and focus for her own creativity.  Maud Bailey, a La Motte scholar in the 1980s section (to whom Roland turns to discover if there is a connection between the two poets), has similar concerns.  In fact, Roland and Maud both crave solitude and autonomy, even within a relationship, a space for themselves, without being “devoured” or “possessed”.  I see this in myself and in many of my friends. Yes, the fairy tale romance would be lovely, but equally important is the space (both physical and mental) for our own endeavours, for the very things that make us unique.  This is to be fiercely guarded and cherished, as Christabel La Motte well knew.

Which fictional characters do you relate to?  Has it changed with new readings of the same book?

This week

 

By Vita Forest

img_0545
This week I have been

WRITING

READING Possession by A. S. Byatt

HOUSESITTING at my lovely friends’ homes as the repairs on the apartment continue… (Thanks Vastra and Diana).

CHOOSING new carpet to replace the sodden mess that has been removed.

SENDING home school reports.

DISCUSSING said reports with some of the parents (Sound is good!)

CELEBRATING the 4th July with some American colleagues.

Somme Song

By Vita Forest


Was it because of or despite the shattering shells and the mud and the death? Was it despite or because he didn’t know whether he would ever again see that beloved river, those beloved trees?  It could not be examined too deeply, it could not be thought about, but somewhere, inside his head, he was hearing a tune.  A rhythm that came from the river, his river.  The softly-falling stream, the trailing willow branches, the lazy boyhood days fishing and lying back in a rowboat, face full to the sun.

He heard it through the deafening shells, through the screams, through the steady thrum of rain that pounded dully on the sandbags and turned the ground  to a stinking grey slurry.

He heard it when his eyes were closed, when his eyes were open, when he couldn’t sleep, when he couldn’t dare.  It was there despite it all, singing to him of his river.  He set the notes down where he could, in his mind, on the darkness on the back of each eyelid, branded red against the black, like the afterimage of a shell-blast.  He teased out the tune, holding a line in his head, replaying it, adjusting it, perfecting it, then committing it to memory until a piece of a paper and pencil could be had. He crouched in the trench, over the mud-splattered paper and wrote it down, by the light of a stub of candle, flickering in the gloom.

What it came down to – what it all boiled down to – was that beauty was important.  It was everything when there was no room for it, no room to be human, no place to escape but here inside his head.

He peeled it back and back, burrowed deeper, past the mud, the rotten stink, the thudding flashes crashing up the sky, the wounded, the loss!  The loss!  The lack of any good thing except this piece of paper and this pencil and the puttering light of the candle that let him see enough to get it down.  Drawing down, down to the tip of the lead, the real place, the only place that mattered, the only way to get through.

The whole point of being alive.

His song.