It is a difficult thing, not to be maudlin in the face of nothing in particular. It is even harder when faced with the gradual accretion of understanding and self-reflection. These last few months have been somewhat in flux, an emotional dissonance based in uncomfortable self-awareness and realisation. A long time ago I wrote about being an island, and of late this has increasingly rung true. Islands come in many sizes and shapes, and mine has been erring towards the small and more precarious of late.
Nevertheless, there is a vitality in uncertainty and a bravado in walking such a tightrope between being hopelessly on top of the world and wondering where the hell ‘that’ just came from.
There has been little rowing this week, partly due to my being away and partly due to the vagaries in weather brought about by the descent of Ophelia and Brian (!) on to these fair shores. I have missed the rowing. I have missed the ker-thunk of the oars hitting pins and the chatter of the crews. I miss the pain of exertion and the thrill of getting that impossible extra 10% effort out. I miss the cold and the water and the sway of the boat at rest. I miss sitting in the boat, in the midst of the harbour at night, in a pocket of quiet surrounded by crowds and laughter and noise that seems impossibly distant.
I bought three books of poetry this week, two straightforward collections from Carol Ann Duffy and Eoghan Wells, the third being a memorial/collection of poetry by Megan Young. I ordinarily don’t buy this sort of book - I like the ambiguity of interpreting the writings of the poets without knowing too much (if anything) about them. However the poems struck me quite strongly, and thus the collection purchased.
Poetry is a singularly individual thing. One person’s awful poetry is another’s sublime connection. Rarely do we actually connect with the poet, rather it is that we connect with the world throuh their words. Poetry leads rather than tells, it guides and offers a multitude of paths, each determined by the reader’s own experiences, needs, desires, fears and moments in time. Poetry is, at its best, an enabler to insight, to emotion, to awakenings.
Of course, at its simplest poetry can just be a bloody good read, and there is equal validity in that.
Thursday was the pretender to this weekend’s weather difficulties. I stood on a beach in West Wales, staring across the sands, with its sheen of water, to distant storm clouds. The wind battered, on the cusp of unbearable. The rain was a drizzle, a match for the spray from the waves. It was overcast, cold and yet utterly refreshing and energising. Storms on the coast or in the wild have a different feel to them than in the city. They speak of the wild, of the unpredictable, of the stripping away of the safety of home or shelter. There is something about standing on an all but abandoned beach, with the cobwebs and doubts and caress being thoroughly and utterly banished that is just sublime.
I love a good storm.