Posts Tagged ‘moving house’


who and what am I?
— we each have a thousand ways
of not knowing this

And that in itself, of course, is a kind of answer. I thought of calling the poem ‘sideways knowledge’. There seems to be nil link between the poem and my last night’s dreams. I woke at 3am and decided to get up, pleased that I had a few dream images still in my brain, and plenty of time to spend before work this morning, trying to shape a poem. I’ve been busy lately with the business of moving house, with a date set for the end of this month, and that is partly why I’ve not kept up with this blog. Also, I’m going to be moving in with my partner Liz, and it isn’t clear at all whether our life together (or whether she) will allow me the luxury of an hour or more at the beginning of the day, spent thinking about my dreams and trying to blog poetry. In view of that uncertainty, it’s natural to ease off the rigid habit, and see if I can do without it — before circumstances force me to do without it. I dreamed last night I was playing through Mahler’s 2nd Symphony in my head, wondering at the marvel of it. Actually I woke with the music of the 3rd going round and round, but in the dream I thought it was the 2nd. I guess there is — very broadly — some connection between ‘who and what am I?’ and Mahler. His music does ask this.



what if — rather than
merely fallible, I’m just
plain untrustworthy?

This morning I sat down to write about last night’s dream, but instead was overwhelmed by the thought of a recent domestic crisis for which I am in part responsible. Generally, writing my morning poem always tends to bring home to me that just the fact of being alive is chock full of potential for evil. I see myself as basically an idiot, in the face of so much unknown danger built into the world and into my own human nature. Two days ago I was instrumental in throwing out my partner’s daughter’s old schoolbooks which she had left with her mother for safekeeping. It was mostly an act of thoughtlessness rather than malice. But I learned from Liz yesterday that, when told, her daughter had taken it very badly. The correct thing to do would have been to ask her if she wanted to keep them. The difficulty then, for me, would have been witnessing the dynamic whereby her mother seems quite unable to refuse her anything: with the result that there is tons of the daughter’s stuff in the mother’s flat rendering it difficult or impossible for me to move in with any degree of certainty that I can find room for my own stuff. None of this is adequate excuse and I feel full of remorse that I can have acted so stupidly. I feel not only guilty but also worried that I may have significantly undermined the delicate balance of the relationship between mother and daughter. It’s these waking worries which are the ‘nightmare’ of the poem’s title.

domestic row

mid-battle, something
fundamental shifts — I can
recreate the terms
of this encounter and give
myself to the enemy

The battle in my dream wasn’t at all like a domestic one — if anything it was heroic, like Beowulf and Grendel — but suddenly in the middle of fighting I felt unaccountably empowered to perform an act of incredible self-sacrifice. It was my destiny. In real life yesterday, Liz and I were arguing (quite mildly, actually) about which items of furniture to bring from my flat when I move into hers. I felt quite sure what I wanted — i.e. to have one of my bookcases in the bedroom so that the top could serve as my dressing table. Yet quite suddenly from nowhere I found myself capitulating, proud in the knowledge that it was because I loved her. I quite like that the dream dramatises this as a heroic moment.