Morning arrived in the wind today. Salt and rain are mixing over the harbour. Winter is coming. I put on Bach’s music and made a pot of coffee. It was hot and bitter.
Sent a thank you note to an American writer whose helpful website enabled me to download ‘The Writers Manifesto’. This Manifesto has a paper heart, that sparkles with hope. Hope for all of us toiling in front of the empty space where words should be. And it recognises our convictions that the words (not paintings, or music, or drawings) should be there even if we do not have them yet. Even if we have not learnt them yet. It made me feel less alone.
Posted a tweet into unknown cyber universe … started tweeting two days ago just to see if I can compose anything within the confines of 140 characters including spaces. It turns out I can. I do not know how it all works (or why it works for that matter).
Mid-morning silence shattered around me when phone rang. It startled me since it almost never rings. My friend’s voice is warm and laced with news. She will be leaving our islands soon and relocating to Europe. To the shores of the Northern Sea … where landscapes are different. And my landscape in South Pacific will be lesser for a friend. We talk about logistics of moving from one end of the earth to another … again. We both did it before and chances are will do it again. We exchange best wishes and promise to keep in touch … across the seas. Until we meet again, in some other landscape.
In stillness that followed I thought about a poem my departing friend once gave to me; it is Eavan Boland’s ‘Lost Land’. And I read it again. For my friend, for my own daughter and for all the absences in me.
The Lost Land
I have two daughters.
They are all I ever wanted from the earth.
Or almost all.
I also wanted one piece of ground:
Once city trapped by hills. One urban river.
An island in its element.
So I could say mine. My own.
And mean it.
Now they are grown up and far away
and memory itself
has become an emigrant,
wandering in a place
where love dissembles itself as landscape:
Where the hills
are the colours of the child’s eyes,
where my children are distances, horizons;
on the edge of sleep,
I can see the shore of Dublin Bay.
Its rocky sweep and its granite pier.
Is this, I say
how they must have seen it,
Backing out on the mailboat at twilight,
on everything they had to leave?
And wold love forever?
I imagine myself
at the landward rail of that boat
searching for the last sight of a hand.
I see myself
on the underworld side of that water,
the darkness coming in fast, saying
all the names I know for a lost land:
Ireland. Absence. Daughter.